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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Italy to bring in vaccine passes for entire workforce

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ROME — Italy is to require the country’s entire workforce to show a health passport or face suspension from work.

Italy’s 23 million public and private sector workers will have to show a so-called Green Pass — providing proof of vaccination, a negative test or recent recovery from infection — to avoid sanctions that also include fines of up to €1,500.

Italy has been the hardest-hit country in the European Union in terms of coronavirus deaths and wants to reach vaccination saturation before the cooler autumn weather arrives, in order to reduce the risk of other variants emerging.

The Cabinet on Thursday unanimously approved the rule, which will come into force on October 15.

Workers who refuse to present a valid health certificate will be suspended without pay, but cannot be sacked, ministers told reporters.

Ministers said the aim of the measure was to protect businesses and maximize growth by avoiding further lockdowns.

Public Administration Minister Renato Brunetta said it was an “extensive, complex, extraordinary endeavor” the like of which hasn’t been seen anywhere else in Europe.

At the current pace, Italy will have 81-82 percent of the population vaccinated by mid-October, but that is not enough for herd immunity to make everyone safe, Brunetta said. “It is autumn soon, temperatures are low, circulation of the virus increases and increases the likelihood of variants that could be resistant to the vaccine. So we don’t have much time.”

Italy has already made vaccines mandatory for healthcare workers and requires a green pass for teachers and those wanting to use gyms and restaurants.

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Hannah Roberts

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