Italy, which at one stage last year had the worst Covid-19-linked death toll in Europe, has introduced a health certificate requirement for workers.

The so-called ‘green pass’ will be required for all public- and private-sector employees from the 15 October, a compulsory decree brought in by Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s coalition government to accelerate Italy’s vaccination programme as the colder season approaches. It is a legal extension of measures already in place across certain entertainment and leisure venues and modes of transport.

Anyone without a pass to prove they have been vaccinated or have had a negative test in the past two days or have recovered from the virus in the previous six months, face possible suspension from work.

That will apply to public-sector employees after five incidences of showing up for work without a pass, and one incident for private-sector staff.

“The Green Pass is an instrument of freedom that will help us make workplaces safer,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza was widely quoted in the media a saying at a press conference today (17 September). “The second reason is to reinforce our vaccine campaign.”

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Workers face fines of as much as EUR1,500 (US$1,767) and employers up to EUR1,000 if they do not comply.

Italian newswire service Ansa reported the Government is seeking to extend the green pass to parliament, the presidential palace and the Constitutional Court. It already applies to rail, domestic and international air travel, restaurants and bars, and schools, the news agency said.

The BBC reported green passes, in digital or physical form, have also been in place to enter cinemas, gyms and swimming pools.

“The implementation of a pass such as the one we are bringing into force with this decree will, we are certain, help us push forward this vaccination campaign,” the broadcaster quoted Health Minister Roberto Speranza as saying.

Dublin-based publication The Journal, cited Italy’s labour minister Andrea Orlando as saying no one faced the risk of being fired if they did not have a green pass.

Italy has reported 4.6m cases of Covid-19 since the outbreak and more than 130,000 deaths, according to the latest data yesterday from the Ministry of Health. It currently has 4,018 people hospitalised from the virus. The number of people vaccinated amounts to 65% of the population, figures from Johns Hopkins University show.