ROME, Sep 17 (Reuters) – Bookings for COVID-19 vaccinations rose in Italy on Friday after the government made vaccination compulsory for all workers in some of the toughest anti-coronavirus measures in the world.
In the northeastern region of Veneto, the number of appointments has more than doubled compared to the previous day, and in Tuscany it has almost tripled according to preliminary information.
In Italy’s largest region, Lombardy, daily bookings on Thursday rose from around 9,500 the previous day to more than 17,000. Data for Friday was not immediately available.
Elsewhere, a steady stream of people poured into vaccination centers that no longer required bookings.
“I came because otherwise they wouldn’t let me work on the construction site,” said Henry Tuku, 30, a migrant who enters a construction site near Rome Central Station that offers free vaccines.
Starting October 15, any worker who does not have a vaccination certificate, a negative COVID test, or a recent recovery from an infection will be automatically suspended without pay.
Those who ignore the decree and still go to work face a fine of between 600 and 1,500 euros (705 to 1,175 US dollars). Companies that fail to ensure that their employees follow the rules are fined between € 400 and € 1,000.
“This is to prevent a new wave of contagion and a new blockade of the Italian economy,” said Vincenzo de Luca, governor of the southern region of Campania with a view to Naples.
“I’m delighted. We have entered a time when democracy advances on the basis of decisions, not on the basis of gossip,” he said in a message on Facebook.
Italy had previously made vaccines mandatory for health workers and then declared that school staff must have a COVID-19 “Green Pass” in order to work.
Most parties backed Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s decision to extend the passport to all 23 million workers in Italy.
Some right-wing extremist groups promised to fight it and opponents called for nationwide protests over the weekend, but it was not clear how many people would take to the streets. The last such appeal failed last month when the Green Pass became compulsory for high-speed trains.
Italy has the second highest number of COVID-19 fatalities in Europe after the UK. Since the pandemic emerged in early 2020, more than 130,200 people have died from the disease.
Around 74% of the 60 million residents have at least one COVID-19 vaccination and 68.6% are fully vaccinated, which is essentially the same as most other EU countries.
Additional reporting by Emilio Parodi; Writing from Crispian Balmer; Editing by David Gregorio
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.