Labor Secretary Andrea Orlando said nobody risks being fired if they don’t present a Green Pass, and Minister of Public Administration Renato Brunetta admitted that inspections at some workplaces would need to be random.
“It is very likely that the effect of the announcement will lead to an acceleration of the green passes, yes, but also of the vaccinations in the next four weeks,” said Brunetta. “The result could already be achieved, partially achieved or – optimistically – exceeded before the decree even comes into force.”
Italy has passed the 80 percent threshold of the eligible population to have received at least one dose of the vaccine this month, with more than 81.7 million vaccine doses given as of Thursday. Three quarters of the population, or 40.5 million people, are fully vaccinated.
While the Green Passport has received support from parties across the political spectrum, critics have raised concerns about a gradual and persistent erosion of civil liberties during the pandemic. Legal challenges are likely as the right to work is enshrined in the Italian Constitution.
Legal expert Vitalba Azzollini, fellow at the think tank of the Bruno Leoni Institute, said the measures lack the necessary transparency to assess whether they are appropriate to the situation, without specific goals for adequate vaccination protection or guidelines on how often the green passports are issued exactly needed to check.
In addition, it noted, such emergency decrees should apply, but this was approved a full month before implementation.
“The Green Pass is not an incentive to get vaccinated, it’s a not-so-gentle push,” she said.
Italy became the first country in the west to be affected by local transmission of the virus in February 2020 and the government has taken the extraordinary measure of shutting down all non-essential productions for seven weeks as part of a draconian lockdown.
The Green Pass requirement covers 14.7 million workers in the private sector and 3.2 million in government-sponsored jobs.
Until now, vaccination was only mandatory for medical staff, while the Green Pass mandate only applied to school staff. Green Passes are also required for indoor leisure activities such as dining, theater or museum visits, and for long-distance domestic trips.
Azzollini also highlighted the difficulty in enforcing the Green Pass rules. She found that although medical staff have been subject to mandatory vaccination since April, only a handful have been suspended.
In France, hospitals, nursing homes and health centers have suspended around 3,000 workers in total for failing to comply with the mandatory COVID vaccination. President Emmanuel Macron ruled in mid-July that people would need to show a health passport to go from restaurants to gyms to museums and make vaccination mandatory for health workers.
With the entry into force of the mandate for health workers on Wednesday, its very concrete effects – unvaccinated staff are not allowed to work – began to be felt. According to the local newspaper Nice matine, nearly 450 health workers – out of 7,500 – have been suspended in just one hospital in the southern city of Nice.