From next month, every Italian citizen going to their workplace will have to show the country’s COVID-19 health pass (“Green Pass”), demonstrating proof of vaccination, a recent recovery from infection, or a negative test conducted up to 72 hours previously.
The new rules come into law on October 15 and will stay until December 31, with the possibility of being extended if needed. People who ignore the government decree and go to work without a health pass can face a fine of between €600–1,500 ($705–1,175). The sanction for employers will be €400–1,000 ($470–$1,180). Falsifying the pass could lead to a three-year prison sentence.
Italy’s new approach is the most determined approach to a vaccine passport in Europe and among the most far-reaching worldwide. The health pass won’t just be needed for indoor social activities, as seen in other countries. The move by the wide-coalition government is to push more people to get the vaccine. Currently, about 74 percent of Italy’s 60 million people have received at least one COVID-19 shot, and 68 percent are fully vaccinated.
According to a report by GIMBE, an Italian Health NGO, vaccination in the Mediterranean country has reduced the number of deaths by 96.3 percent, the number of hospitalizations by 93.4 percent, and intensive care admissions by 95.7 percent; a testament to how effective the vaccines currently are.
The Rt index that is used to estimate how quickly an epidemic is spreading is continuing to shrink in Italy, evidence that vaccinations, the employment of the health pass in public spaces, and health measures such as masks and social distancing have allowed Italy to contain the fourth wave of COVID-19. The current seven-day average in new cases is 4,600. Yesterday, 67 people died in Italy due to COVID-19.
While the decree was voted unanimously by the government, the far-right party Northern League was divided internally on the decision, with high-ranking members critical of vaccines and vaccines passports. Such a move has been described by some in the country as a cynical appeal to vaccine-hesitant members of the population, as the politicians in question have been both vaccinated and using the health pass while rallying against it. Union leaders were also not convinced by these moves saying that the tests should be free for those who refuse to vaccinate. The government capped the national cost of the tests to €15 ($17.61). The vaccine is free.
With over 130,000 deaths since February 2020, Italy has the highest fatality from the pandemic in Western Europe after the United Kingdom, but has the most stringent approaches to moving forward and containing the spread.