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COVID-19 RULES

Italy set to expand Covid ‘super green pass’ to all workplaces

The Italian government is expected to make vaccination mandatory for all employees. Here's what's on the table in the latest Covid decree.

Workers undergo a control of their so-called Green Pass in Genoa.
The 'green pass' requirement is set to extend to all workers in Italy. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

All workers in Italy could be obliged to get vaccinated under Italy’s latest anti-Covid measures – either through a vaccine mandate or by extending the so-called ‘super green pass’.

The ‘super’ or ‘reinforced’ green pass health certificate, which proves vaccination or recovery, has already been made compulsory for access to almost all leisure, social or sporting activities in the country, but workplaces so far are not subject to the rule.

One hypothesis is that the government will make vaccines obligatory for all workers – or more likely – that it plans instead to make its Covid health pass a requirement for entry to all workplaces, therefore effectively making vaccination mandatory for all workers by default (if they aren’t recovered).

Only healthcare staff, police, teachers and emergency services workers are currently subject to mandatory vaccinations.

The authorities are to meet on Wednesday to discuss the change to the nationwide Covid-19 health measures, making it the third decree in as many weeks after already bringing in two previous ones.

READ ALSO: Is Italy about to make Covid vaccine passes mandatory for all employees?

The move is intended to halt the rising infection numbers across Italy due to the omicron variant: some 1.125 million people in Italy are currently positive, according to the latest official figures, while just under 86 percent of the eligible population have completed a full vaccination cycle.

Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

The authorities are still falling short of their goal to fully immunise 90 percent of the population, which they announced back in October, after reaching their previous 80 percent target just one week behind deadline.

The details of when the new rule comes into force and who it will apply to are still being discussed, but Italian media reports suggest that it could be a requirement from as early as next month. This would give time to those who are not vaccinated or haven’t yet fully completed the cycle to get a shot or a second dose.

Should a worker fail to produce a ‘super green pass’, it would effectively mean they would be refused entry to work.

The workplace would join a long list of other venues and services already set to be subject to the requirement, effective from January 10th.

Calendar: When do Italy’s Covid-19 rules change?

At the moment, only the basic form of the health passport is needed at workplaces (unless you’re in one of the categories subject to the vaccine mandate).

The basic green pass can be obtained via a negative test result – though these passes are only valid for a couple of days, meaning people who refuse vaccination must get tested several times a week in order to go to work.

From February 1st green passes based on vaccination will expire after six months. If you get a third or booster dose, your pass will then be renewed for another six months.

For further information about Italy’s current Covid-19 health measures, please see the Italian Health Ministry’s website (available in English).

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COVID-19 RULES

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

The health ministry is reviewing its quarantine requirements as the country's Covid-19 health situation improved again this week, according to Italian media reports.

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

Italy has taken a more cautious approach to Covid in recent months than many of its European neighbours, keeping strict isolation rules in place for anyone who tests positive for the virus.

But this could be set to change in the coming days, according to media reports, as one of Italy’s deputy health ministers said the government is about to cut the isolation period for asymptomatic cases.

“Certainly in the next few days there will be a reduction in isolation for those who are positive but have no symptoms,” Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa said in a TV interview on the political talk show Agorà on Tuesday.

“We have to manage to live with the virus,” he said.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper reported that the compulsory isolation period could be reduced to 48 hours for those who test positive but remain asymptomatic – provided they subsequently test negative after the day two mark.

Under Italy’s current rules, vaccinated people who test positive must stay in isolation for at least seven days, and unvaccinated people for ten days – regardless of whether or not they have any symptoms.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

At the end of the isolation period, the patient has to take another test to exit quarantine. Those who test negative are free to leave; those who remain positive must stay in isolation until they get a negative test result, up to a maximum of 21 days in total (at which point it doesn’t matter what the test result says).

Health ministry sources indicated the new rules would cut the maximum quarantine period to 15 or even 10 days for people who continue to test positive after the initial isolation period is up, La Stampa said.

The government is believed to be reviewing the rules as the latest official data showed Covid infection and hospitalisation rates were slowing again this week, as the current wave of contagions appeared to have peaked in mid-July.

However, the national Rt number (which shows the rate of transmission) remained above the epidemic threshold, and the number of fatalities continued to rise.

The proposed changes still aren’t lenient enough for some parties. Regional authorities have been pushing for an end to quarantine altogether, even for people who are actively positive – an idea Costa appears sympathetic to.

“The next step I think is to consider the idea of even eliminating the quarantine, perhaps by wearing a mask and therefore being able to go to work,” he told reporters.

“We must review the criteria for isolation, to avoid blocking the country again”.

At least one health expert, however, was unenthusiastic about the proposal.

Dr Nino Cartabellotta, head of Italy’s evidence-based medicine group Gimbe, tweeted on Tuesday: “There are currently no epidemiological or public health reasons to abolish the isolation of Covid-19 positives”

Massimo Andreoni, professor of Infectious Diseases at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the Tor Vergata University of Rome, was more ambivalent about the prospect.

The isolation requirement for asymptomatic cases should be “revised somewhat in the light of the epidemiological data”, he told reporters, but urged “a minimum of precaution, because the less the virus circulates and the fewer severe cases there are, the fewer new variants arise”.

When the question was last raised at the end of June, Health Minister Roberto Speranza was firmly against the idea of lifting quarantine requirements for people who were Covid positive.

“At the moment such a thing is not in question,” he told newspaper La Repubblica at the time. “Anyone who is infected must stay at home.”

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