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COVID-19 RULES

Unvaccinated over-50s in Italy lose access to workplaces from Tuesday

Those aged 50 or over in Italy who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 will no longer be able to access workplaces from Tuesday under an extension of the country’s ‘super green pass’ scheme.

Unvaccinated over-50s in Italy lose access to workplaces from Tuesday
Italy has required all employees to show Covid health passes since October 2021, but the rules are now being tightened for over-50s. Photo: Marco Bertorello / AFP

Under the rules coming into force from Tuesday, February 15th, all employees in either the public or private sector aged 50 or over will be obliged to show proof of vaccination via a ‘super green pass’ health certificate in order to enter their workplace.

The ‘super’ or ‘reinforced’ green pass, which is already required for access to most venues and services in Italy, shows that the holder has been vaccinated or recovered from Covid within the past six months.

However, for anyone aged 50 and over vaccination – not just recovery – is required, as Italy has mandated vaccination for this age group since early January.

The vaccination requirement, announced in a government decree published on January 7th, applies to anyone living in Italy aged 50 or over, or anyone due to turn 50 by June 15th (the date by which the mandate is currently due to expire).

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

This includes foreign nationals, freelance workers, and those who are unemployed.

Anyone in this age bracket who remains unvaccinated as of February 1st, or who has not had a booster dose within six months of completing their primary vaccine cycle, is subject to a one-time €100 fine from Italy’s tax collections agency, the Agenzia delle entrate-Riscossione.

In addition, the rule change from February 15th means anyone in this age group who is unable to show proof of vaccination when entering their workplace could be fined or suspended without pay.

Those found in their place of work without the vaccine pass face fines of between €600 and €1,500, which double in the event of a repeat violation. Employers caught failing to enforce the rules are subject to the fines of between €400 and €1,000.

A vaccine pass is required for all over-50s in Italy to access their workplace from February 15th.

A vaccine pass is required for all over-50s in Italy to access their workplace from February 15th. Photo by JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP

Vaccination also became compulsory for university staff and those who work in music, art, and dance training academies under the January 7th decree. Those who work in these professions will also need the ‘super green pass’ to continue doing their jobs from February 15th.

They join healthcare staff, police, teachers and emergency services workers as categories of workers in Italy subject to a vaccine mandate.

All other workers in Italy can for now continue to use the ‘basic green pass’, which can also be obtained via a negative Covid test result, to go to work.

Italy’s Covid infection rate is now falling, with 51,959 new cases and 191 deaths recorded on Sunday, compared to 62,231 cases and 269 deaths in the previous 24 hours, reports news agency Ansa.

In an interview with Italy’s national broadcaster Rai on Sunday, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said that the signs were positive but urged people in Italy to continue to act with caution.

“The requirement for over-50s is a correct decision that puts us in a position to look to the coming months with greater confidence,” Speranza said.

“We must still insist on vaccination – the more we dry out the unvaccinated areas the safer the country is,” he added.

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COVID-19 RULES

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”.

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