The measures are the first of their kind adopted by a major European economy for all categories of workers.
Italy has adopted a new decree that requires all workers to show a COVID-19 health pass from October 15.
Thursday’s move by Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s coalition administration aims to persuade people to get vaccinated and reduce infection rates in one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic.
Public and private sector employees will need to demonstrate proof of vaccination, recent negative COVID-19 test, or virus recovery in the previous six months to access workplaces.
“The Green Pass is an instrument of freedom that will help us make workplaces safer,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said at a press conference.
“The second reason is to strengthen our vaccine campaign.”
The Green Pass requirement covers 14.7 million private sector workers and 3.2 million in state-supported jobs.
Until now, medical staff were required to get vaccinated, while the Green Pass rule had been in effect only for school employees.
Green passes are also required for indoor leisure activities such as dining, visiting the theater or museum, and for long-distance domestic travel.
Penalties for non-compliance
Workers who do not present valid health certificates will be suspended without pay, but cannot be fired, the ministers told reporters after Draghi’s cabinet approved the measures.
People who ignore the decree and go to work independently will face a fine of 600 to 1,500 euros ($ 705- $ 1,765). The penalty for employers will be 400-1,000 euros ($ 470- $ 1,175).
The measures are the first of their kind taken by a major European economy for all categories of workers, making Italy a test case for the continent.
They will remain in force while Italy is in a state of emergency. Currently, the state of emergency is scheduled until December 31.
“Nothing like this has been done in Europe … we are putting ourselves at the forefront internationally,” said Public Administration Minister Renato Brunetta.
Brunetta added that the government expected a “huge” acceleration of the coups simply with the announcement of the decree, so that much of the desired effect could be achieved before it actually takes effect.
Italy has recorded the second highest number of COVID-19 deaths in Europe after the UK, with a nationwide death toll of more than 130,000.
About 74 percent of its population of 60 million people have received at least one COVID-19 injection and 68 percent are fully vaccinated, figures that are broadly in line with most other countries in the European Union.