Italy braces for further unrest and labor market chaos as Europe’s toughest vaccine mandate comes into effect on Friday.
All workers will be required to present a coronavirus health pass before entering their workplace, a move that is expected to leave some industries with staff shortages.
The measure, an expansion of the ‘green pass’ introduced in August, will require workers in the public and private sectors to have been doubly vaccinated, to present proof of a negative test taken within the previous 48 hours, or to have they had recently recovered from Covid-19. .
Those who flout the rules risk being suspended without pay or a fine of up to € 1,500 (£ 1,270). Employers face fines for failing to verify staff compliance.
Over 80% of the population over 12 has been doubly vaccinated and the majority of Italians have taken the green pass – also required for dining in restaurants, entering museums, theaters and cinemas, and for use in planes and long-trains at a distance – in their wake.
However, protests against workplace regulations have gathered pace in recent weeks, with a protest in Rome last weekend turning violent as neo-fascist groups exploited discontent.
The motive behind Italy’s green pass is to boost vaccinations and contain infections in the hope of avoiding another lockdown.
Although there was an increase in the number of people reserving vaccinations when the measure was first announced, especially among young people, around 2.5 million workers have yet to receive the vaccine. The majority of those who refuse vaccination are over 50 years old.
The problem has caused divisions among workers, with some vaccinated people choosing to stay away from the workplace due to the presence of unvaccinated colleagues.
Confindustria, the Italian business lobby, strongly supports the measure in the workplace. However, various industries are considering staff shortages starting Friday as workers strike or simply choose to stay at home.