- Workers in the private and public sectors must have a health subscription
- Draghi seeks to increase vaccinations, blunt virus
- Italy is testing the rest of Europe
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, according to a draft decree seen by Reuters. Full details are expected to be released later today.
People who ignore the decree and go to work anyway face a fine of 600 to 1,500 euros ($ 705 to $ 1,175).
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.
There have been sporadic protests in Italy 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.
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.
Officials say it would encourage people to continue avoiding vaccines. However, a government source said the cabinet will keep a hard cap on testing prices, imposing a maximum fee of 15 euros for adults.
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. Read more
Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Gavin Jones
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