Italy mandates vaccine passports for all workers

By on 16/09/2021 | Updated on 16/09/2021
The Green Pass is already compulsory for all medical workers (pictured) and teachers. Photo courtesy Dipartimento Protezione Civile via Flickr

Italy’s prime minister Mario Draghi has made vaccine passports mandatory for its 1.2 million government and local authority employees and all private sector workers. It is the first EU country to do so.

The measure was approved at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Bloomberg reports, but has not been officially announced by government. It is understood the extension of the ‘Green Pass’ passport scheme will take effect from next month.

The Green Pass is already compulsory for medical workers and has recently been rolled out to teachers and university students, who use it to prove they have had at least one dose of the vaccine, have recently recovered from the virus, or have tested negative in the past 24 hours.

Since July, citizens have had to show the pass, which is a digital or paper certificate, if they want to use public transport, dine inside at restaurants or go to the gym, theatre or cinema.

The move to extend the Green Pass aims to curb the spread of the virus in the workplace and control infection spread as temperatures begin to fall. Italy has the second highest COVID-19 death toll in Europe after the UK, and the eighth highest in the world. It recorded 35,000 new cases of coronavirus last week.

‘The only weapon we have’

Prior to Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, regional affairs minister Mariastella Gelmini said on state radio: “We are heading towards a mandatory Green Pass not only for public sector workers but also private sector ones.

“The vaccine is the only weapon we have against COVID and we can only contain infection by vaccinating a great majority of the population.”

Around 65% of Italians over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated while 73% have received at least one dose.

It was reported earlier this month that the government was considering rolling out the Green Pass further, making vaccines mandatory for all Italians of eligible age. The news prompted a backlash from anti-vaxxers who sent death threats to ministers, virologists and health officials, The Guardian reported.  

There had already been muted protests by public sector employees prior to Thursday’s decision. Now that private sector workers are to be included in the scheme, bigger protests are expected.

Government in-fighting

Draghi’s decision to extend the use of the Green Pass has been met with anger from the far-right Brothers of Italy opposition party and from members of Draghi’s own coalition government. Matteo Salvini, leader of the co-ruling League party, has repeatedly resisted plans to extend the use of the Green Pass. His party would always be “against obligations, fines and discrimination”, he said earlier this week. However, the League is also said to be split internally on the issue.

Italy follows countries such as the US, which last week announced that all federal government and private sector workers must receive the vaccine or risk facing disciplinary action, and Canada, which has introduced vaccine mandates for government staff.   

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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