Italy makes COVID health passport compulsory for all workers
- Workers in the private and public sectors must have a health subscription
- Draghi seeks to increase vaccinations, blunt virus
- Italy becomes a test for the rest of Europe
- Minister says decision puts the country “at the forefront” in the world
ROME, September 16 (Reuters) – The Italian government on Thursday approved some of the world’s toughest anti-COVID measures, requiring all workers to show proof of vaccination, a negative test or a recent recovery from infection.
The new rules will come into effect on October 15 as part of the latest effort by Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s broad coalition to persuade people to get vaccinated and blunt contagion in one of the countries worst hit by the virus.
Any worker who does not present a valid health certificate will be suspended without pay, but cannot be fired, ministers told reporters after the cabinet approved the measures.
People who ignore the decree and go to work anyway face a fine of 600 to 1,500 euros ($ 705 to $ 1,175). The penalty for employers will be 400 to 1000 euros.
“Nothing like this has been done in Europe … we are placing ourselves at the forefront at the international level,” said Minister of Public Administration Renato Brunetta.
He added that the government expected a “huge” acceleration of the jabs simply by announcing the decree, so that much of the desired effect can be achieved before it actually goes into effect. in a month.
While some states in the European Union have ordered their health workers to be vaccinated, none have made the “Green Pass” mandatory for all employees, making Italy a test case for the mainland.
The pass was originally designed to make travel within Europe easier, but Italy was one of a group of countries that quickly made it a requirement for those wishing to access places such as museums, gymnasiums and indoor dining areas in restaurants.
Draghi, who was not present at Thursday’s press conference, had already faced resistance to his Green Pass extension from right-wing leader Matteo Salvini, one of the main players in his government.
However, Salvini’s League party is divided on the issue and the cabinet ultimately approved the decree unanimously.
There have been sporadic protests across the country in recent weeks against growing pressure to get a coup, but most political parties as well as the main employers’ federation have backed the move, hoping it will prevent further lockdowns. .
Union leaders have been more lukewarm, saying tests should be given free of charge to workers who refuse to be vaccinated, allowing them to stay at work.
The government rejected this request, but indicated that the price of the tests would be capped at 15 euros for the work, significantly lower than the current cost.
Italy has the second highest death toll from COVID-19 in Europe after Britain, with more than 130,000 people dying from the disease since the pandemic first appeared in early 2020.
Around 74% of its 60 million people have received at least one injection of COVID-19 and 68% are fully vaccinated, figures broadly in line with most other countries in the EU.
Stressing the importance of jabs, Italian health foundation Gimbe said in a report on Thursday that almost all people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized were not vaccinated.
The report says vaccines helped reduce deaths in Italy by 96.3%, hospitalizations by 93.4% and intensive care admissions by 95.7%.
Italy in March ordered health workers to be vaccinated or face suspension. To date, 728 doctors have been suspended, the doctors’ federation announced on Thursday. It was not immediately clear how many nurses or caregivers had refused to comply.
A similar measure in France came into force on Wednesday. Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Thursday that around 3,000 health workers had been suspended for not being vaccinated.
Additional reporting by Gavin Jones, written by Crispian Balmer and Gavin Jones; Editing by Janet Lawrence
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