Italy extends Covid ‘green pass’ requirement to all workplaces

Italy on Thursday approved a new law making its Covid-19 health certificate obligatory for all employees in both the public and private sectors in a bid to boost vaccination coverage and keep infection rates down.

Italy extends Covid 'green pass' requirement to all workplaces
Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The law, which will require all workers to show that they are vaccinated, recovered or have proof of a recent negative coronavirus test, will come into effect on October 15th.

 “We’re extending the ‘green pass’ obligation to the entire world of work, both public and private,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza told a press conference after the government took the decision on Thursday evening.

 “And we’re doing it for two basic reasons: to make these places safer and make our vaccination campaign stronger,” Speranza said.

EXPLAINED: How Italy will enforce the new ‘green pass’ rules in workplaces

The pass is a certificate that shows whether someone has been vaccinated against Covid-19,  tested negative in the previous 48 hours, or recently recovered from the virus.

It is currently mandatory for customers at leisure venues such as cinemas and sports stadiums, long-distance trains and buses or domestic flights.

Just over 40 million people are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus inItaly, roughly equivalent to 75 percent of the population over the age of 12.

The government aims to boost that figure to 80 percent by September 30th.

Under the new law, workers failing to produce a pass will face fines of up to 1,000 euros ($1,200), according to media reports. 

Unjustified absences due to failure to secure a pass could lead to the employee being suspended, they said.

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. 

Italy’s FNOMCeO medical association told AFP Thursday that 728 doctors have been suspended for not being vaccinated.

Hundreds of other health workers have also faced suspension, with many appealing the decision unsuccessfully.

Among teaching staff, 93.1 percent have been completely vaccinated or have received at least a first dose, while another 6.7 percent are awaiting a first dose or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson jab, according to the government.

READ ALSO: Almost all hospitalised Covid-19 patients in Italy are unvaccinated, says health watchdog

The government’s decision concerns “a total of 23 million workers, the country’s entire human capital,” said Renato Brunetta, the public administration minister.

Italy is not the first European country to oblige workers to either bevaccinated or take regular tests.

Since September 13th, unvaccinated employees in the private and public sectors in Greece have had to be tested at their own expense once or twice a week, depending on profession.

In Slovenia, the health pass has been mandatory at work since Wednesday.

In France, the pass is required for workers who are in contact with the public.

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.