Italy is expanding its health card requirement to cover most workers, public and private.

Italy will require its residents to present a health card to go to work, the government said on Thursday. It is the first country in Europe to require so many certificates of vaccination against the coronavirus.

“It is an extraordinary undertaking,” Italian Minister of Public Administration Renato Brunetta said Thursday evening. “That’s all the human capital of the country.

From mid-October, a requirement that already applies to some essential workers will extend to anyone working in factories, public offices, shops, restaurants and other places. This represents 23 million people, Mr Brunetta said.

Individuals will need to be able to prove that they have received at least one dose of the vaccine, or that they have recently recovered from Covid-19, or that they take a swab virus test every other day. People who test positive should stay home on sick leave. Employers will be responsible for verifying certificates, and workers who fail to comply with the health card requirement can be suspended from their jobs and fined up to 1,500 euros ($ 1,760).

Earlier this year, Italy was the first country in Europe to make vaccination compulsory for healthcare workers. This measure was extended last week to anyone working in a hospital, nursing home or school, all university students and all adults who enter school buildings.

After the government made health certificates compulsory for teachers over the summer, the proportion of people vaccinated increased dramatically, according to government statistics.

The Italian authorities have set themselves the target of fully vaccinating 80% of the eligible population by the end of September. Scientists differ on whether this proportion will be high enough to verify the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus, which is currently prevalent in Italy.

Almost 75 percent of Italians aged 12 and over have already received at least one dose of the vaccine and at least 65 percent are fully immunized. But there are still 3 million people over 50 who are not yet protected, a figure that could affect the effectiveness of the vaccination campaign as autumn approaches.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Thursday the new policy was aimed at making workplaces safer and getting more Italians vaccinated. “We are sure that it will help us even more to push this vaccination campaign,” said Mr Speranza.

The French authorities plan to apply similar rules for essential and hospital workers. French Health Minister Olivier Veran said Thursday that 3,000 health workers across the country had been suspended from duty for failing to meet a vaccination requirement. France made vaccinations mandatory for nearly three million essential workers on Wednesday.

Since coming to power in February, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has stepped up the country’s vaccination campaign, making it one of the government’s top priorities and pushing all Italians to get vaccinated.

The Nationalist League Party – which is part of Italy’s broad governing coalition – opposed the extension of the vaccine certificate requirement, but found little popular support. A few anti-vaccine activists have recently been arrested and accused of organizing violent protests. But overall, Italians have embraced the health pass.

Mr Draghi said earlier this month that he was considering making vaccinations mandatory for everyone. Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for use in Italy.

In the United States, after the Food and Drug Administration gave its first full approval for a coronavirus vaccine – that from Pfizer BioNTech – for people 16 years of age and older, a number of government agencies and employers private individuals have decided to make vaccination compulsory.

In Italy, health certificates attesting to immunity or a recent negative test are already required to enter cinemas, theaters and museums, to dine inside restaurants or to travel on high-speed trains or planes.

Leave a Comment