Italy: Not much is possible without the “Green Pass”

Status: 04.09.2021 09:02 a.m.

In Italy, the Covid vaccination certificate is a prerequisite for visiting a museum or fitness studio and eating in the canteen. Now the rules have been tightened – a challenge for companies too.

By Ilanit Spinner, ARD-Studio Rome

The unvaccinated employees of the Suba Seeds company near Cesena have to be tested every 72 hours – at their own expense. You pay 25 euros for the smear at the entrance to the company building. There are no exceptions at the Italian manufacturer of organic seeds. Those who fail to do so will be fired. There are no uniform rules in Italy. Each company can decide for itself how the measures are implemented.

Lunch break in the open air

The “Green Pass” has been a requirement for access to the company canteens since August. If you don’t have a QR code to show you have to stay outside. Some companies have set up tables and tents outside for their employees and offer packed lunches. Most of them, however, have simply forbidden access to the company canteen for those who have not been vaccinated.

This is also the case with the Swedish furniture giant Ikea in Piacenza in northern Italy. More than half of the 1200 employees are not vaccinated. Currently, the employees are eating on the floor in front of the building. Angelo Colombini from the Italian trade union CISL is finally calling for clear laws: “That’s a crazy contradiction,” he says. “I go to work and don’t have to show my ‘Green Passport’; but if I go to lunch in my own company canteen, I suddenly have to show a digital vaccination certificate.” Colombini believes the new rules are illegal and requires the government to protect the rights of all workers, vaccinated or not.

No more government help with quarantine

In addition, the government has stopped financial aid for employees who have to be in quarantine. Employees are deducted up to 1,000 euros from their wages if they are not allowed to work. This also applies to employees who become infected with the coronavirus, even if they are fully vaccinated. This already affects a good 200,000 employees who fell ill with Corona or were under quarantine in the first six months of this year.

Here, too, the unions are calling on the state to take the money into their hands and ensure that employees can return to work without any financial loss. That is how it was regulated last year under the government of ex-Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Stricter corona rules

There have also been new measures in public transport since September 1: Those who travel by long-distance buses or by rail with high-speed and intercity trains need proof that they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, tested negative or have recovered. In addition, the “Green Pass” is now also compulsory for travelers on domestic flights in Italy. Anyone traveling by ferry between two Italian regions, e.g. from Lazio to Sardinia, also needs proof. The penalties for refusals are already severe: anyone caught without a “green pass” faces a fine of between 400 and 1000 euros.

The restrictions for employees at schools and universities are also controversial. Without a QR code, employees are no longer allowed to enter the building. After five days they are suspended and no longer receive any wages. At universities, the obligation to provide evidence applies to students and everyone who works there; also for people in teaching or research.

A month ago there were demonstrations against the Green Pass in Italy, like here in Milan at the beginning of August.

Image: EPA

The “Green Pass” has been compulsory since August 6th for museums, fitness studios, concerts, stadiums and indoor areas in restaurants. The government has reacted to the increased number of corona infections. Operators or restaurateurs who do not adhere to the rules risk, in addition to a fine, the establishment of the restaurant being closed for up to ten days. In the run-up to the rules that are now in force, opponents of vaccinations and “green passports” across the country demonstrated violently against the measures.

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