FLORENCE — Weeks after requiring all citizens to show coronavirus vaccination proof on all domestic flights, on trains, and at universities, Italy has moved to mandate that all employees do the same for work. The country is the first in the European Union to enact such a policy.
Even though about 74 percent of Italians are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Italy will now force all workers in the country to show evidence of having been vaccinated.
Italian workers must show their “green pass,” which comes in physical or digital form, or else risk being suspended and having their pay halted after five days. Italy’s health minister, Roberto Speranza, said the decision was “to make [our] places safer and to make our vaccination campaign even stronger.” The vaccine mandate, which the cabinet unanimously approved, will begin Oct. 15.
Giuliano Leoni, a landlord in the city of Florence, told me he does not think the new policy is compatible with Italian law.
“It’s ridiculous. The law does not oblige a person to get the vaccine, so the government can’t ask a certification to go to work — if this certification requires you have to do something you are not obliged to do by law,” Leoni said.
The government’s policy, which passed on Thursday, will affect 23 million workers in the public and private sectors. Health care employees and those attending gyms or restaurants are also currently required to present a green pass.
Prior to the country’s decision, France moved to suspend close to 3,000 workers in the health care industry for not receiving COVID-19 shots. Italy’s Public Administration Minister Renato Brunetta, however, admitted his country’s decision is an “extensive, complex, extraordinary endeavor” that has yet to be mirrored elsewhere in the EU.
While ministers told journalists that unvaccinated workers will not necessarily be fired, they may face suspension and lose compensation — which appears to be a distinction without a difference as far as employees are concerned. Across the country, there have continued to be anti-vaccine mandate and anti-lockdown protests in response to the government’s heavy-handed policies. In the past week, outraged protesters have taken to the streets in more than 80 cities, including Florence, Milan, Naples, and Rome.