ROME, September 16 (Reuters) – Italy set to become the first country in Europe to require all workers to have a COVID-19 “Green Pass”, with cabinet set to approve the measure in a meeting later Thursday, officials said.
The pass is a digital or paper certificate showing that a person has received at least one dose of the vaccine, has tested negative, or has recently recovered from the disease.
It was originally designed to make it easier to travel between states in the European Union, but Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s vast unity government soon expanded its use in an effort to persuade more people to get vaccinated. and mitigate the spread of the virus.
While some European countries 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.
There have been sporadic protests 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 economic lockdowns.
Officials told Reuters the decree was due to go into effect on October 15 and would affect both public and private sector workers.
Any worker who does not present a valid pass will be suspended without pay, but cannot be dismissed. People who ignore the decree and go to work without having the health certificate face a fine of up to 1,000 euros ($ 1,175).
While the employers’ federation welcomed this decision, the unions were lukewarm and demand that tests be administered free of charge to workers who refuse to be vaccinated.
Officials pushed back against this, saying it would encourage people to continue to avoid vaccines. A government source said the cabinet was likely to keep a firm lid on testing prices, imposing a maximum fee of € 15 for adults.
Italy has the second highest death toll from COVID-19 in Europe after Britain, with more than 130,000 people having died from the disease since the pandemic first appeared in early 2020.
About 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 European Union.
Around 3,000 healthcare workers unvaccinated against COVID-19 have been suspended in France, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Thursday, a day after the country made vaccination compulsory for all healthcare workers and nursing homes. Read more
Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Janet Lawrence
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