Italy will become the first country in Europe to require all workers in both the public and private sectors to get a vaccine certificate in order to do their jobs.
On Thursday, government officials announced their mandate, which will see every worker in the country need a type of vaccine passport known as a “green pass” effective October 15. While several other countries in Europe have instituted vaccine passport requirements to visit venues such as restaurants, bars, gyms and other businesses, Italy will be the first to require the pass for private sector employees.
This new law will extend the requirements to every employee of every type of workplace across all sectors in the country, including people who are self-employed. Businesses and staff will be fined as much as 1500 euros if workers are discovered to be working without a valid green pass.
In addition, workers who do not have the green pass could be suspended and lose their pay. However, they cannot be fired for failing to get the pass. In lieu of proof of vaccination, they may also present an official negative test or prove that they have recently recovered from infection with the virus. Unions there have said that the tests should be administered for free to workers who do not wish to be vaccinated; the government disagrees but has capped the price of tests at 15 euros.
In Italy, 68 percent of the population is currently fully vaccinated, while 74 percent of Italians have received at least one vaccine dose. Their death toll is the second highest in Europe after the UK. Italy was the first country in Europe to go into lockdown and has seen more than 130,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
In March, Italy ordered its healthcare workers to get vaccinated or face being suspended. More than 700 doctors have already been suspended over the rule, along with an unknown number of nurses and care givers.
The government is hoping that the new move will lead to an “enormous” jump in people getting vaccinated. While some countries in Europe have been requiring health care workers to get the vaccine, none have extended such measures to all types of employees. Public administration minister Renato Brunetta said: “Nothing like this has been done in Europe… we are putting ourselves in the forefront internationally.”
Other European countries are ramping up vaccine mandates
The green pass was first introduced to make it easier to travel within the European Union, but several countries, such as Austria, Cyprus and France, have now started requiring the certificates for different reasons.
France is requiring a health pass for accessing planes, trains, bars and restaurants. Yesterday, the French government announced that nearly 3,000 health care workers in hospitals, health centers and care homes have been suspended for failing to comply with mandatory COVID-19 vaccination measures. Last week, French authorities estimated that 12 percent of hospital staff and 6 percent of private practice doctors are not vaccinated against the virus.
The country’s health minister, Olivier Veran, said these suspensions are only temporary and reassured people that healthcare would remain available. Large demonstrations are being held in France on a weekly basis against the vaccine requirements there.
In the UK, the government recently reversed course on plans to introduce a vaccine certificate system for accessing bigger and more crowded venues like nightclubs, although the option is being reserved as part of the country’s Plan B for winter. However, they have required all care home workers to be fully vaccinated by November 11, and the country’s health secretary has said the measure will most likely extend to all frontline staff working in the country’s health system, the NHS.
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