Italy is due to extend the government’s emergency powers until 31 March 2022 as Covid cases soar ahead of the festive season.

The special powers were due to expire at the end of this year, and Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s cabinet will agree as soon as Tuesday on their extension.

The state of emergency gives special powers to national and regional authorities, circumventing red tape to introduce, change or revoke urgent measures when required. The powers have been in place since the start of the pandemic, with the two governments serving during this time facing opposition to over-centralising control, Bloomberg reports

However, the leader of right-wing Lega party Matteo Salvini, who up to a few days ago strongly opposed the move, now says he is "waiting for data" before stating his view. Whereas leader of the far-right Fratelli d'Italia (FdI), Giorgia Meloni said: "It is not an emergency."

Plans to extend the country’s state of emergency follows the introduction of the so-called Super Green Pass, which excludes unvaccinated people from taking part in certain activities, as well as banning the No Vax and No Green Pass demonstrations from city centres across the country.

The Super Green Pass is a stricter version of the Green Pass certificate, proving the holder has been vaccinated against Covid, recovered within the last six months or tested negative within the last 48 hours.

Although there has been a gradual rise in coronavirus cases in Italy, the country’s close to 90% vaccination rate has permitted the government to avoid more extreme measures seen in other European countries. These include fresh lockdowns and mandatory vaccinations. On Monday, new cases in Italy totalled 12,712, with 98 fatalities.

Italy’s vaccination campaign for children aged between 5 and 12 is due to get underway on Wednesday.

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