WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Italy is requiring all employees to have a COVID-19 “Green Pass” in order to work.
- The Green Pass shows proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test, or a recent recovery from the disease. It is not a vaccination mandate.
- Protests erupted on Friday in response to the new work requirements. The pass was already required to access some indoor environments and transportation services.
Protests erupted in Italy on Friday in response to the country’s new requirement that employees must have a COVID-19 “Green Pass” that shows their vaccination or testing status.
The Green Pass shows proof of COVID-19 vaccination, as well as proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test and proof of a recovery from the disease in the last six months, according to AP News. The passes, which are used across the European Union in various capacities, are stored on a cellphone app that can be checked by employers using a QR code.
The pass was already required indoors at places like restaurants and theaters, and some long-distance transportation required it as well. Italy was one of the epicenters of the pandemic in early 2020. The country implemented strict lockdowns in response.
Data from the U.S. has shown that Pfizer and Moderna’s two-shot vaccine series are highly effective at preventing COVID-19 infections. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being distributed in Italy, as well as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
Hundreds gathered in Trieste, where they protested against the COVID-19 vaccine and called the Green Pass “discrimination,” the AP reported. The pass does not qualify as a vaccination mandate since there is a testing option.
Employees who refuse to get a Green Pass must go on unpaid leave, the New York Times reported. Employers must check for Green Passes; those who don’t face fines of 400-1,000 euros, according to the AP. If employees go to work without a valid pass, they can face fines of up to 1,500 euros.
While about 81% of Italians over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated, the goal of the pass requirement is to increase vaccination even further, the AP reported.
It is a sentiment echoed in other Western countries that have tried multiple tactics to get citizens vaccinated. In the United States, President Joe Biden issued a requirement that the vast majority of healthcare workers must be vaccinated. There is no testing option as a substitute.
Healthcare workers in Italy are the only group thus far that is required to be vaccinated, the AP reported.