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KEY POINTS: How will Italy enforce its vaccine mandate for over-50s?

Italy has made it compulsory for all over-50s to get vaccinated. Here’s what we know about how it will enforce the requirement.

Vaccines are now mandatory for over-50s in Italy.
Vaccines are now mandatory for over-50s in Italy. Tiziana FABI / AFP

Who’s subject to the mandate?

Everyone currently aged 50 and over in Italy, as well as anyone due to turn 50 by June 15, 2022, is now required to get a Covid vaccine.

The text of the decree, which was published in Italy’s Official Gazette on January 7th, is explicit that the rules apply to all those resident in Italy – not just Italian citizens.

The sanction applies not just with regard to first doses, but also for anyone who as of February 1st has failed to complete their primary vaccination cycle ‘in accordance with the instructions and within the time provided by circular of the Ministry of Health’ or get their booster dose within the time frame stipulated in a decree issued on April 21, 2021 and updated on June 17, 2021, the decree says.

According to the news daily il Quotidiano, that means that anyone in the age bracket who has gone more than six months since receiving their last shot would be in violation of the mandate – even if they have completed the primary vaccination cycle.

Why is Italy targeting the over-50s?

The latest records from the national statistics agency Istat show that 28 million people in Italy out of a total of 59 million residents – almost half the population – are over the age of 50.

Whilst Italy has one of highest Covid vaccination rates in Europe (74 percent are fully jabbed) it’s estimated that around 2.3 million people aged over 50 in the country have still not had a single dose.

There have also been plenty of reports in Italian media of how unvaccinated Covid patients are ending up in hospital intensive care wards.

In recent days the country has seen record highs in its Covid infection rates, with over 196,000 new cases recorded on Wednesday. Pressure on hospitals is mounting, and the majority of those hospitalised due to Covid are unvaccinated and over 50. 

READ ALSO: Italy to make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for over 50s

By introducing the mandate, the government hopes to avoid overwhelming healthcare facilities and keep the country open as people return from their Christmas holidays and schools start up again.

“We are working in particular on the age groups that are most at risk of being hospitalised, to reduce pressure on hospital to save lives,” said prime minister Mario Draghi at the cabinet meeting where the measure was adopted.

READ ALSO : Italian hospitals inundated with Covid patients

When does the rule take effect?

Those who fall into the age bracket are required to get vaccinated from the day after the decree’s publication in the Official Gazette. As the decree was published on January 7th, the mandate came into force on January 8th.

To allow people time to book an appointment, sanctions won’t apply until February 1st.

From February 15th, workers aged 50 and over will need to produce a ‘super green pass’, which shows the bearer is vaccinated against or recently recovered from Covid, to enter their workplace.

A health worker administers a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine
An individual receives the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on August 5, 2021 at the Ambreck pharmacy in Milan. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)

Are there any exemptions?

Cases where the Covid vaccine would pose an “established danger to health, in relation to specific documented clinical conditions, certified by a doctor” are exempted from the requirement to get vaccinated.

In addition, any over-50s who can prove they have recovered from Covid in the past six months will be able to go to work using their ‘super green pass’ without having had the vaccine. Once that six month period is up, however, employees will require a vaccine to have their green pass extended so they can continue going to work.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What’s in Italy’s latest Covid decree?

What are the penalties for refusing to get vaccinated?

Employees over 50 caught in their workplace without the super green pass are subject to fines of between 600 and 1500 euros.

Those barred from entering the workplace because they don’t have a pass can’t be fired, but will be marked as absent without leave and will have their pay frozen until they can produce the pass and resume their employment.

Aside from these worker-specific penalties, the decree states that anyone living in Italy over the age of 50 who is found to be unvaccinated by February 1st will be fined 100 euros.

How are the authorities going to check?

As far as workplaces are concerned, it’s the responsibility of employers to ensure their staff are complying with Covid restrictions. 

Employers that fail to do so face fines of between 400 and 1,000 euros. All workplaces are subject to periodic checks by police to determine whether the rules are being enforced.

As for 100 euro fines for unvaccinated residents over the age of 50, the decree states that the sanction “shall be carried out by the Ministry of Health through the Inland Revenue-Recovery Agency (…) by acquiring data made available by the Health Card System.”

Those who the Italian health system has registered as unvaccinated will be notified and have ten days to communicate to their local health authority the reason why they’re not vaccinated, the decree says.

Member comments

  1. its a nightmare to get a vaccine here in the south Capaccio , the first jab last year I stood in a queue for five hours , the second wasnt too bad , around two hours then last week monday 27th dec I waited in a long queue for hours to be told they had run out of vaccine and to come back on monday jan 3rd Which I did , they opened at 15.00 I arrived at 13.00 and there was already a queue , although I was no 6 and they opened at 15.00 I didnt actually get jabbed until 16.27 . there were many people behind me and I doubt they all got a jab , probably waiting many hours I am 72 years old and view myself as fit and healthy , there were many others who should not have been put through that torture of waiting for hours in the cold , they obviously had ailments , the next jab day is friday 7th open at 15.00 hours , the staff seem to be working really hard , its the organisation . I feel that given how the virus is rising so quickly the vaccine centres should be open more through the week and with more vaccine to go round .

  2. We have sovereign rights as human beings. They cannot lawfully enforce this. The data you have quoted is just fear-mongering. How exactly can they distinguish between the alleged different strains of the virus, what test do they use now that the PCR has finally been recognised by the CDC as being unable to tell the difference between the seasonal flu and Covid 19. How many people have died from the Omicron variant and what is the ration of vaxxed to unvaxxed for these deaths? Filter in how many of the unvaxxed deaths are actually vaxxed people who have been vaxxed for under 2 weeks, or 3 weeks, etc. Data is being manipulated to manipulate people.
    Instead of simply pushing government propaganda do some real, useful and informative research and give your readers an more critical and balanced viewpoint.

  3. Did that comment originate from the Local or from someone too spineless/ashamed to be named? What a disgusting fascist comment. You are obviously too stupid or brainwashed to see that this has nothing to do with health. None of these measures have any effect on slowing the virus – just look at ‘the elephant in the room’ that is Sweden. You are being lied to by your government – it is tragic to see this happen to such a beautiful country

    1. Hi We can assure you this comment was not made by a journalist at The Local but by a reader. We have contacted them to change their alias and warned them about their comment. Kind regards. Ben

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Italy lifts mask mandate for private sector workers

Masks will no longer be required in the workplace but Italian companies will have the right to impose restrictions for employees deemed "at risk".

Italy lifts mask mandate for private sector workers

Representatives from the Italian Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Health and all major national unions collectively signed off on Thursday a new “shared protocol” (protocollo condiviso) for the implementation of anti-Covid measures in private workplaces. 

Although the full text of the bill will only be made available to the public sometime next week, portions of the document have already been released to the media, thus disclosing the government’s next steps in the fight against the virus.

The most relevant update concerns face masks, which will no longer be mandatory in private workplaces. 

However, the text specifies, FFP2 face masks remain “an important protective item aimed at safeguarding workers’ health”. As such, employers will have the right to autonomously impose the use of face coverings on categories of workers considered “at risk”.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Notably, face coverings may remain mandatory for those working in “indoor settings shared by multiple employees” or even in “outdoor settings where social distancing may not be practicable”. Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions (soggetti fragili) may also be subject to such rules, which, it is worth reminding, are left to the employer’s discretion. 

Alongside mask-related restrictions, employers will also have the right to have their staff undergo temperature checks prior to entering the workplace. In such cases, anyone with a body temperature higher than 37.5C will be denied access to the workplace and will be asked to temporarily self-isolate pending further indications from their own doctor.

In line with previous measures, companies will be required to continue supplying sanitising products free of charge and regulate access to common areas (canteens, smoking areas, etc.) so as to avoid gatherings.

Additionally, employers will be advised to keep incentivising smart working (lavoro agile), as it has proved to be “a valuable tool to curb infection, especially for at-risk individuals”.

Provided that the country’s infection curve registers no significant changes, the updated protocol will remain in place until October 31st, when it will yet again be reviewed by the relevant governmental and social parties. 

With the latest round of measures, Italy has now scrapped all Covid-related health measures, except the requirement to wear face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings, and self-isolation provisions for those testing positive. 

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

Italy’s infection curve has been rising significantly since the beginning of June. From June 1st to June 14th, Covid’s R (spreading rate) rate rose back over 1 for the first time since April 8th. Also, from June 17th to June 23rd, the virus’s incidence rate was 504 cases every 100,000 residents, up by 62 per cent on the previous week.

According to Claudio Mastroianni, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Sapienza University of Rome, “with 25 per cent of daily Covid swabs coming back positive and a R rate over 1, the infection curve will likely rise at least until mid-July”.

However, albeit acknowledging the rising number of positive cases, Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa has so far categorically excluded the possibility of re-introducing lapsed Covid measures, saying that it’ll be a “restriction-free summer”.