Last week, they announced that all people over 50 will join all healthcare workers, school and university staff, military members, and police officers in being required to have the vaccine. Around 28 million of the country’s 59 million inhabitants are over the age of 50.
Beginning on February 15, all workers in the public and private sector must show proof of vaccination or a recent recovery in order to access their workplaces; violators will be suspended from work without pay and may face an administrative sanction ranging from 600 to 1500 euros, along with disciplinary consequences.
In a statement, the government said: "The text aims to slow down the growth curve of infections related to the pandemic and to provide greater protection to those categories that are most exposed and who are at greater risk of hospitalisation."
Currently, around 78 percent of the Italian population has been fully vaccinated, while 36 percent have received a booster shot.
According to Health Minister Roberto Esperanza, people aged 50 and older will be asked to present their green pass before they can enter their workplace. The certification is only granted to people who have been fully vaccinated against the virus or who have recently recovered from an infection.
At the same time, new measures were adopted aimed at making public life largely inaccessible to those who have not been vaccinated as the country's leaders bragged that they would become the first European Union country to force their citizens to get the vaccine. One new measure requires people who are working or obtaining services in hair salons and similar establishments to have a negative virus test if they are not vaccinated or have not recently recovered from an infection.
In addition, people who do not have a new green pass will not be able to enter banks, private or public offices, or shops or go on trains, planes, buses, subways and ships. They cannot enter bars or restaurants, theaters, cinemas, gyms, swimming pools, stadiums, sports halls, wellness centers, cultural centers, recreational centers, spas or museums.
And the list goes on. Without a green pass, Italians cannot go to amusement parks, casinos, hotels, wedding parties or religious ceremonies, nor can they attend festivals or fairs or ride on the country's many ski lifts. Police have been entering restaurants and boarding buses to look for violators.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi has repeatedly blamed the country's COVID situation on the small percentage of Italians who remain unvaccinated despite the fact that it is now widely accepted that people who are vaccinated are still capable of getting infected and spreading the disease. In fact, not only does the vaccine fail to fully protect people from COVID infection, but some studies are pointing to the possibility that it might increase the chance of being infected with omicron and requiring hospitalization.
Italy isn’t the only country instituting strict vaccine mandates. Austria has announced a vaccine mandate that will apply to everyone over 14, with violators being fined as much as 2,000 euros every time they are caught in public without proper vaccine documentation. Those who refuse to pay their fines could be placed in a special prison for the unvaccinated for as long as a year. Greece, meanwhile, has announced it will start forcing citizens over the age of 60 to get the vaccine.
Sources for this article include: