Italy set to make Covid ‘green pass’ mandatory for all employees

Italy is expected to become the first major European country to make its Covid-19 health certificate mandatory for all workers in both the public and private sector from October, as the government tries to speed up vaccinations and keep the infection rate down.

Italy set to make Covid 'green pass' mandatory for all employees

A new decree set to be approved by the Italian government on Thursday will require employees at all workplaces to show proof of vaccination, testing or recovery under the certificazione verde or ‘green pass’ scheme, a minister said on Wednesday.

The digital pass proves the bearer has received at least one vaccine dose, tested negative or recently recovered from the virus.

UPDATE: Where do you now need to show a Covid green pass in Italy?

It was originally brought in to allow quarantine-free travel between EU member states, and Italy is one of several countries that also made it a domestic requirement at venues such as museums, gyms and indoor restaurants.

“We are heading towards a mandatory green pass not only for public sector workers but also private sector ones,” Regional Affairs Minister Mariastella Gelmini said on Italy’s Rai radio on Wednesday.

“The vaccine is the only weapon we have against Covid and we can only contain infections by vaccinating the large majority of the population,” she said.

“We have taken a clear path. Tomorrow’s cabinet meeting will definitely be an important moment.”

While several other European countries have health pass requirements in place at various venues, none has made it mandatory for all workers.

The move is not yet confirmed, and it remains to be seen whether the government will go as far as Gelmini suggests.

A decision is set to be announced following the cabinet meeting on Thursday, with the expansion likely to come into force in mid-October, Italian news agency Ansa reports.

Previously, ministers had been discussing rolling out the health pass requirement by sector over a number of weeks.

The government had been expected to first extend the ‘green pass’ requirement to people working in venues where it is already a requirement for customers, including restaurants, bars, museums, cinemas, theatres, swimming pools and gyms.

It was later set to be extended to all state employees and then, finally, other private sector companies. 

Photo: Andreas SOLARO/AFP

However, following debate in parliament over the decree this week it appears likely that the rules may now come in for all sectors at once.

A health pass requirement is already in place for employees in certain sectors in Italy.

On September 1st, Italy made the green pass mandatory for teachers and other school staff, as well as for parents entering school premises, before expanding the requirement on September 9th to employees of cleaning and catering companies working in schools and universities as well as to external workers in the healthcare sector.

Separately, Italy has since April mandated vaccines for anyone working in public or private social health positions, including in pharmacies and doctors’ offices. 

Education or healthcare staff who refuse to comply with the rules can be suspended without pay.

The government also approved legislation last week stating that anyone working in schools, universities and healthcare facilities who is found without a ‘green pass’ can also be fined between €400-€1,000.

Ministers have said the use of the health pass scheme is the only alternative to reinstating health measures such as business closures and travel restrictions.

Extending the Covid-19 health pass is also hoped to encourage vaccination uptake among the part of the population which has not yet had a first jab.

The Italian government has also confirmed that it is considering making Covid vaccinations obligatory amid the final push to meet immunisation targets this month.

READ ALSO: Why September will be the ‘decisive’ month for Italy’s Covid vaccination campaign

While no other European country is currently considering such a move, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said Italy will go ahead with making vaccines mandatory “without fear” if a law is deemed necessary “to protect the right to health”.

A decision on obligatory jabs is expected by the end of September, and will partly depend on what percentage of the population can be persuaded to get the jab voluntarily by that date.

Italy aims to have 80 percent of the population over 12 years old vaccinated by September 30th.

The current figure as of Wednesday stands at 74 percent, according to the latest government data.

Find the latest updates in our green pass news section and further details on the official website (currently only available in Italian).

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Italian government begins talks on Covid ‘super green pass’

Italy is set to tighten the rules on its health certificate scheme from December as Covid-19 contagion and hospitalisation rates continue to rise.

Employees in Italy must show Covid health passes to access workplaces.
Employees in Italy must show Covid health passes to access workplaces - but are the rules about to get stricter? Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Note: This article is no longer being updated. Please find the latest news here.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will hold a meeting with regional leaders on Monday evening, beginning several days of talks on a new government decree which is expected to be announced by Friday, reports national broadcaster Rai.

As the health situation has worsened across Italy in recent weeks – particularly in the north-eastern regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto and the autonomous province of Bolzano – leaders of local governments are increasingly pushing for new measures, mainly in the form of further restrictions on the unvaccinated under a so-called “super green pass” scheme.

KEY POINTS: Italy’s new plans to contain the Covid fourth wave

Italy began rolling out its health certificate or ‘green pass’ for domestic use in August, initially making it a requirement at many leisure and cultural venues such as cinemas and indoor restaurants, before extending its use to workplaces and some forms of public transport. 

The certificate shows that the bearer has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has recovered from the disease within the last six months, or has tested negative in the last few days.

Instead, the proposed ‘super green pass’ would only be issued to those who are vaccinated or recovered, with passes issued based on testing in future only valid for entry to workplaces.

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

While no concrete decisions have yet been made, sources within the health ministry have indicated that it is considering the measure for any region declared a higher-risk ‘orange’ zone.

“Closures and restrictions must not be paid for by the vaccinated,” said Health Undersecretary Andrea Costa, adding that the ‘super green pass’ plan would “guarantee the unvaccinated access to workplaces and basic needs, but certain activities such as going to a restaurant, cinema or theatre should be reserved for the vaccinated if the situation worsens.”

“It is clear that we must bring in new initiatives,” he said in an interview with Sky TG24 on Sunday.

EXPLAINED: Will Italy bring in a Covid lockdown for the unvaccinated?

At the moment all of Italy remains in the lowest-risk ‘white’ zone, with few health measures in place.

However several regions are now nearing the thresholds at which they would be moved into the ‘yellow’ zone next week, and – if the situation continues to worsen – then risk being placed under orange zone restrictions two weeks later.

Costa said a planned third dose obligation for health workers “is already foreseen and I think it will be approved this week.”

Health Minister Roberto Speranza put forward proposals last week to make third doses obligatory for the healthcare staff already subject to a vaccine requirement, and also to cut the validity of Italy’s Covid-19 health certificate – the so-called green pass – from 12 to nine months for people who are vaccinated, including with a third dose.

READ ALSO: Italy to start Covid boosters for over-40s on Monday as infection rate rises

The changes have not yet been formally approved, but are expected to come in from December 1st under the planned new decree set to be signed into law by the end of the week.

Other measures the government is reportedly considering include cutting the validity of green passes based on PCR test results from 72 to 48 hours, and those from the results of rapid testing will be reduced from 48 to 24 hours.

There have also been calls from health experts and regional leaders to stop issuing green passes based on rapid test results altogether, as these are less reliable than the results of a PCR test.