On Monday, Italian police blocked several groups on the mobile messaging app Telegram where users could buy fake Covid-19 health passes required to access an array of services and leisure activities.
The so-called Green Pass is a digital or paper certificate that shows if someone has received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, has tested negative or recently recovered from the virus.
Mario Draghi’s government adopted the pass to try to accelerate vaccinations in the face of the Delta variant, but it has triggered protests by some Italians who say it tramples on freedoms and is an indirect way of making vaccines obligatory.
As of August 6, it is required to access gyms, swimming pools, museums, cinemas and to eat indoors at restaurants, and from Sept. 1 it will also be mandatory for university students and to travel on trains, planes, ships and coaches.
The police said in a statement they had shut down 32 Telegram groups operating around the country, offering fake passes to thousands of subscribers for up to 500 euros ($588) in cryptocurrency or online shopping vouchers.