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In the fight to slow the spread of COVID-19 and vaccinate its population, Italy is making COVID-19 health cards mandatory for all workers – making it the first European country to do so.
In a newly approved measure introduced by the Italian government on Thursday, officials said digital vaccination certificates will be mandatory for all employees across the country.
The health passport, or “green passport”, indicates whether a person has been fully vaccinated, tested negative, or has recently recovered from the virus. The passports are available in both digital and paper form.
From October 15 to the end of the year, any employee who does not present their health vaccination certificate to their employer will be suspended for up to five days without pay, but not dismissed.
Health passes were originally introduced to make traveling around Europe easier, but Italy made it a requirement to eat indoors, visit museums, and gyms.
“We are extending the commitment of the Green Passport to the entire world of work, public and private, and this for two main reasons: to make these places safer and to make our vaccination campaign even stronger,” said Italy’s health minister. Roberto Speranza told Euronews in a press conference.
Unemployed citizens and retirees will be exempt from presenting their vaccination records, officials told Euronews.
The news of Italy’s mandatory requirement comes after the country reported more than 4.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 130,000 deaths, according to latest data from John’s Hopkins University.
So far, 74% of Italians have at least one vaccination with the COVID vaccine and 68% are fully vaccinated.
Italy has the second highest death toll from COVID-19 in Europe, with the UK reporting more than 130,000 deaths since the pandemic began.
Earlier this month, Italy made the green passport mandatory for its teachers and other public servants as health care workers had to be vaccinated since March.