Italian workers told to show Covid passes to go back to the office

17 September 2021, 21:10

Staff in Italy will need to show Covid passes in order to access their workplaces
Staff in Italy will need to show Covid passes in order to access their workplaces. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Staff in Italy will need to show Covid passes in order to access their workplace or face fines of up to €1,500.

The decree, issued by Premier Mario Draghi's coalition government, means that Italian workers in both the public and private sector will need to show proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or recovery from Covid-19 in the past six months in order to access their workplace after October 15.

"The Green Pass is an instrument of freedom, that will help us make workplaces safer," Health Minister Roberto Speranza told a press conference.

"The second reason is to reinforce our vaccine campaign."

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Staff in all categories of workers may face fines of up to €1,500 if they do not comply, and employers up to €1,000.

Public sector employees also risk suspension if they rack up five absences for failure to show up with a Green Pass, whilst private sector workers can be suspended after the first failure.

Ministers said the measures were aimed at reinforcing Italy's economic recovery, with GDP forecast to grow 6 per cent this year, at a critical moment in the pandemic as schools reopen and cooler weather moves more activities indoors, where the virus spreads more easily.

They also expressed concern about the impact of any possible new variants.

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Labour Minister Andrea Orlando said that no one risked being fired if they did not present a Green Pass, and the public administration minister, Renato Brunetta, acknowledged that checks in some workplaces would have to be random.

"It is very likely that the effect of the announcement will already bring in the next four weeks an acceleration in Green Passes, yes, but also of vaccinations," Mr Brunetta said.

"The result could already be achieved, or partially achieved, or perhaps - optimistically - exceeded, before the decree even takes effect."

The measures are the first by a major European economy to require proof of immunity or a negative test for all categories of workers.

Slovenia and Greece adopted similar measures this week but Italy's economy, the third largest in the European Union, is a far larger target, and the measure underscores the government's determination to avoid another lockdown even as the number of new virus infections creeps up, mostly among the unvaccinated.

The measures in Italy will remain in effect as long as the country is in a state of emergency, currently until December 31.

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Italy surpassed the threshold of 80 per cent of the eligible population having received at least one dose of the vaccine this month, with more than 81.7 million vaccine doses administered by Thursday.

Three-quarters of the population, or 40.5 million people, are fully vaccinated.

While the Green Pass was supported by parties across the political spectrum, critics have signalled concerns about a gradual and ongoing erosion of civil liberties during the pandemic.

Court challenges are likely, as the right to work is enshrined in Italy's constitution.