Italy makes COVID health pass mandatory for all workers By Reuters
© Reuters. A worker shows the “Green Pass”, which is a document that proves her immunity from coronavirus (COVID-19), in an Italian office on September 16, 2021. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
By Crispian Balmer and Giuseppe Fonte
ROME (Reuters) -The Italian government approved on Thursday some of the strictest anti-COVID measures in the world, making it obligatory for all workers either to show proof of vaccination, a negative test or recent recovery from infection.
These new regulations will be in effect on October 15. They are the latest attempt by Mario Draghi’s wide coalition to convince people to immunize themselves and prevent contagion from one of the worst affected countries by the virus.
Ministers said that any worker failing to produce a valid certificate of health will face a suspension without pay but not being able to be fired.
People who disregard the decree and continue to work will be subject to a penalty of 600- 1,500 euro ($705-$1,175). Employers will face a fine of 400 to 1000 euros.
Renato Brunetta, Public Administration Minister said that nothing like it has ever been done in Europe. “We are setting ourselves up to be the leaders internationally.”
He said that government expects an “enormous” acceleration in vaccinations just by announcing the decree. It is possible to achieve much of its intended effect before it goes into effect within one month.
Although some EU states require their employees to have vaccines, others have not made it mandatory. This makes Italy an ideal test case.
While the original purpose of the Green Pass was to make travel easier across Europe, Italy quickly adopted it as a condition for access to indoor dining and gyms.
Draghi did not attend Thursday’s news conference as he had been opposed to his Green Pass extension by Matteo Salvini who is one of the key stakeholders of his government.
But, Salvini’s League party has a split opinion on the matter and the cabinet unanimously approved the decree.
Although there have been occasional protests in the past weeks over the increasing pressure for vaccinations, most political parties and the major employers’ federation supported the decision, believing it would prevent more lockdowns.
Union leaders were less enthusiastic, saying that employees who are refusing to get vaccinated should receive them free of charge, so they can continue working.
Although the government refused to grant this request, it stated that the cost of testing would be limited at 15 euro for work purposes. This is significantly lower than the current price.
Italy has the second-highest COVID-19 death toll in Europe after Britain, with more than 130,000 people dying of the disease since the pandemic surfaced in early 2020.
Around 74% have received at least one COVID-19 shot, while 68% of the 60 million-strong population are fully vaccinated. These figures roughly match those in most EU countries.
Gimbe, Italy’s national health foundation said Thursday in an important report that nearly all COVID-19 patients currently admitted to hospital had not been vaccinated.
It was found that vaccines helped to reduce the number of deaths, hospitalisations and admissions for intensive care by 95.7% in Italy.
Italy ordered that health staff be vaccinated by March or risk being suspended. According to the doctor’s federation, 728 doctors had been removed as of Thursday. Unknown was the number of carers or nurses who had declined to obey.
Similar measures were also in force in France on Wednesday. On Thursday, Olivier Veran, the Health Minister said that about 3,000 workers in health were suspended because they failed to get vaccines.