Protests erupt in Italy in response to COVID-19 ‘green pass’

  • Italy requires all employees to have a COVID-19 “Green Pass” to work.
  • The Green Pass shows proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test, or recent recovery from the disease. It is not a vaccination mandate.
  • Protests erupted on Friday in response to new work demands. The pass was already required to access certain indoor environments and transportation services.

Protests erupted in Italy on Friday in response to the country’s new requirement that employees have a COVID-19 “Green Pass” indicating their vaccination or test status.

The Green Pass shows evidence of COVID-19 vaccination, as well as evidence of a recent negative COVID-19 test and evidence of recovery from the disease in the past six months, according to AP News. The passes, which are used across the European Union for a variety of purposes, are stored on a mobile phone app that can be verified by employers using a QR code.

The pass was already required indoors in places like restaurants and theaters, and some long-distance transport required it as well. Italy was one of the epicenters of the pandemic at the start of 2020. The country has put in place strict containment measures in response.

Data from the United States has shown that the two-shot vaccine series from Pfizer and Moderna are very effective in preventing COVID-19 infections. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are distributed in Italy, as well as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine.

Hundreds of people gathered in Trieste, where they protested the COVID-19 vaccine and called the Green Pass “discrimination,” the AP reported. The pass does not constitute a mandate for vaccination since there is a test option.

Employees who refuse to obtain a Green Pass must go on unpaid leave, the New York Times reported. Employers must verify green passes; those who do not face fines of 400 to 1,000 euros, according to the AP. If employees go to work without a valid subscription, they face fines of up to 1,500 euros.

While around 81% of Italians over 12 are fully vaccinated, the goal of the pass requirement is to increase vaccination even further, the AP reported.

This is a sentiment echoed in other Western countries which have tried several tactics to vaccinate citizens. In the United States, President Joe Biden has imposed a requirement that the vast majority of healthcare workers be vaccinated. There is no option to test as a substitute.

Healthcare workers in Italy are so far the only group that needs to be vaccinated, the AP reported.

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