Italy

Protests and Strikes Expected as ‘Green Pass’ for Italian Workers Comes into Force

Covid ‘Green Passes’ have come into force in Italy for workers both in the public and private sector, meaning those who choose not to get ‘jabbed’ or haven’t recently tested (costing a small fortune) or recovered from the virus will be suspended from work without pay and could be fined up to €1,500 (£1,270). Workplaces that don’t comply with the rules also face being fined.

Around three million workers haven’t been vaccinated against Covid and strikes and protests are expected to take place in opposition to the new measures in the coming days and weeks. Sky News has the story.

The rule was approved by Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s cabinet in mid-September…

The pass is already required in Italy to enter museums, theatres, gyms and indoor restaurants, as well as to take long-distance trains and buses or domestic flights.

The workplace requirement has sparked big protests in Rome, with some demonstrators turning violent and clashing with police last weekend.

More unrest is feared and workers at a main port have threatened a strike.

The Government hopes the pass will encourage unvaccinated Italians to get the jab.

According to a Government document seen by Reuters news agency, 15% of private and 8% of public sector workers have no Green Pass.

But under the new rules they can be suspended without pay and fined if they work without it – a move that has been criticised by some.

The right-wing League’s Luca Zaia, Governor of Veneto, said: “We will not be able to grant a swab every 48 hours to all the unvaccinated.

“The business people I am in contact with are extremely worried.”

The UIL union said in a statement: “This is a very restrictive measure that could have a serious impact on social stability and exacerbate an already complicated situation.”

Unions said tests should be free for workers who don’t want to be vaccinated, but the Government said they would be capped at €15.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: How else can we stop these measures other than by stopping the economy, asks a spokesman for striking port workers. BBC News has the story.

“It is time to stop the economy, which is perhaps the only way we can show this Government that many people are struggling,” port workers’ spokesman Stefano Puzzer told Rai TV. “Many will remain without wages, purely because they exercised their free choice of not having the vaccine.” …

Dock workers in Trieste offered to call off their action if the Government delayed making the Green Pass obligatory until the end of October, but that was rejected by Rome.

Also worth reading in full.

Postcard From Southern Europe, Where Mask Wearing is Almost Universal

A Daily Sceptic reader has just returned from a trip to Spain and Italy and has sent us this guest post. Depressing reading.

One of the lovelier benefits to travel is the perspective it lends to life at home. Usually, this revolves around how the British sky and food is more dull than we realise, but after two recent trips to Spain and Italy one would be forgiven for thinking that Blighty is a post-Covid, liberal, free-thinking nirvana.

Both countries in question reported big Covid numbers – broadly in line with ours. Now both have similar vaccination levels and both are reporting broadly similar case daily numbers too. Their supine adoption of the ‘passport’ has been relatively well documented but but to walk the streets or beaches in either is to see a population cowed by face mask legislation. Masks are obligatory more or less everywhere indoors but it is the manner of their adoption which makes it all the more depressing.

Two nationalities (which one might playfully suggest are known for their selective application of some rules) have taken to the wearing of masks with quiet supplication. When viewed with the rapid dropping of masks we are enjoying at home this makes for a most depressing spectacle.

The farcical insistence that a face mask is worn when walking from a beach bed to a bar is barely credible yet the adherence is almost total. Equally, to see a solitary, masked parking attendant standing in a country lane is absurd as it is worrying.

The beautiful and ancient Fallas of Valancia this year were reconvened after the pandemic, but despite taking place in deserted streets the participants were still required to wear masks alongside their fabulous costumes.

Of course, there is the human element, our children grumbled at wearing a mask – it was uncomfortable, new for them and scary – and were barely challenged when they did not. But the fact remains that every other child was happily going about with a mini-mask strapped to their face.

One wonders if this can be traced back to their lockdowns. Neither country closed schools to any great extent but children were required to wear masks at school. Equally, neither had such a wholesale adoption of home-working as here and while offices opened earlier than in the U.K., many people wore masks at their desks and were often banned from using meeting rooms, asked instead to use virtual conferencing with their colleagues a few yards away.

I cannot comment on the mask hesitancy or counter-arguments that have been made – of which I am sure there have been many, but writing this in a charming pizzeria in Milan I note that I was reminded to wear my mask by two people upon arrival and had my temperature taken to walk the 10 paces from the door to the terrace – whereupon my mask is not required.

If it wasn’t so sad it would be funny.

Italy Makes Covid ‘Green Pass’ Mandatory for All Workers

The Italian Government will force all workers – both in the public and the private sectors – to have a ‘Green Pass’ proving that they have either been vaccinated, tested or recently recovered from Covid. Those who don’t comply could have their pay stopped after five days and businesses that don’t check passes will be heavily punished. BBC News has the story.

The measure, due to come into force on October 15th, aims to boost vaccinations in a country that has been badly hit by the virus. 

Green Pass certificates for Covid, provided both digitally and on paper, are already required to access Italian train stations, cinemas, restaurants, gyms and swimming pools. 

School staff are also required to show a pass and some teachers have reportedly been turned away from work.

On Thursday, the Italian Government approved a new law to extend the requirements to all workplaces and employees across all sectors, including the self-employed. 

Businesses and staff could face fines of up to €1,500 (£1,280) if people are found to be working without a valid Green Pass.

Announcing the decision, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the new measures would improve safety and “make our vaccination campaign even stronger”. 

“The implementation of a pass such as the one we are bringing into force with this decree will, we are certain, help us push forward this vaccination campaign,” he said. 

Despite a vocal anti-vaccination minority, Italians have broadly backed the Government’s vaccination campaign.

Nearly 65% of Italians have now been fully vaccinated, but infections have been rising, driven by the Delta variant.

We followed Italy’s lead on locking down. It’s not inconceivable that we could do the same on Covid passes.

The BBC News report is worth reading in full.

“You’d Have to be Crackers to Book a Holiday”

A raging battle has erupted in the Cabinet over plans for a danger list of countries that could see destinations like Spain and Italy suddenly move to red. MailOnline has more.

The plans for a new ‘amber watch list’ sparked outrage in Whitehall as some ministers believe it could ruin the holiday hopes of millions of Britons.

The idea, which was agreed in principle this week, would see holidaymakers warned that while they are abroad certain amber countries could go straight on to the red list.

This would leave them facing compulsory hotel quarantine on their return, at a cost of £1,750 a head.

Spain and Italy both featured in talks about countries that could be put into the new category – as soon as next week – amid fears about the Beta variant, which first emerged in South Africa.

Senior ministers, including Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, are said to have reservations about imposing further disruption on the beleaguered travel sector.

Mr Shapps urged people to “ignore speculation” ahead of decisions next week. But behind the scenes a battle is raging.

One Whitehall source said: “You would have to be crackers to book a holiday to a place knowing that it could go on to the red list at any moment.

“If you have already booked to go there you are going to spend your whole holiday worrying whether you are going to have to make a dash to the airport to get home.

“The decision next week will basically be in place for August. It is peak holiday season – are we really going to cause that much disruption to this many people?”

Worth reading in full.

Italians to Require Covid “Green Passes” to Get Into Restaurants, Gyms and Theatres

Italy is set to join the growing list of countries preventing their unvaccinated citizens from living their lives as normal ‘after’ lockdown.

From next month, Italians will need a Covid ‘Green Pass’ showing proof of vaccination against the virus or negative tests to be allowed into restaurants, gyms, museums, movie theatres and more so as to assure those who are vaccinated that “they won’t be next to contagious people”. The MailOnline has the story.

Premier Mario Draghi’s Government approved a decree on Thursday ordering the use of the so-called Green Passes starting on August 6th. 

To be eligible for a pass, individuals must prove they have received at least one vaccine dose in the last nine months, recovered from Covid in the last six months or tested negative in the previous 48 hours.

The passes will be needed to dine at tables inside restaurants or cafes, to attend sports events, town fairs and conferences, and to enter casinos, bingo parlours and pools, among other activities. according to officials.

The certification is needed to “to keep economic activity open” and will allow people to enjoy entertainment “with the assurance they won’t be next to contagious people”, Draghi said.

“The Italian economy is going well. It’s reviving, and Italy is growing at a rhythm superior to that of other EU nations,” the Premier told reporters.

Some 40 million people in Italy have already downloaded a Green Pass, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said. 

He noted that the certification is already required to attend wedding receptions and to visit residents of care homes.

However, some have protested against the use of the Green Pass, with people taking to the streets of Turin on Thursday night to protest its use. …

So far, 45.8% of people in Italy have been fully vaccinated. In comparison, 53.9% of people in the U.K. have received two jabs, as have 53.6% of people in Spain, 47.6% of people in Germany and 43.5% in France.

Worth reading in full.

Italy, Austria and Germany Could Be Added to “Green List” This Week

Reports suggest that more countries could be added to the Government’s “Green List” later this week, which would allow unvaccinated Brits to holiday abroad without needing to quarantine when back in the U.K. The MailOnline has the story.

Italy, Austria and Germany are among the potential destinations that appear to pose a low enough risk to be downgraded in a review due on Thursday.

The move could make life easier for Brits who are desperate to get away, but have yet to receive both doses. 

People who are double-jabbed are due to be exempted from having to self-isolate on return to “Amber List” countries from “Freedom Day” next Monday.

But they will have to prove they are fully vaccinated, and there fears of huge delays as the rules are eased. …

Meanwhile, Britons will still need to consider the restrictions that are being imposed by other countries – with many trying to stop the Delta – or Indian – variant being imported from the U.K. …

Experts have predicted that a dozen more countries could be added to the Green List – where vaccine status is not an issue for the restrictions in England – in a review on Thursday. 

Former BA strategist Robert Boyle told the Telegraph that Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Canada, Austria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Taiwan now meet the criteria for the loosest controls.

That would bring the total on the Green List to 39, with any changes expected to take effect from next week. …

Under the new arrangements, travellers will still be required to fill out a passenger locator form with details of their home address.

They will also need to confirm they have booked a day two PCR coronavirus test. Border Force agents must insect [sic] the documents for passengers at passport control. However, airlines will be responsible for checking vaccination status.

Border officers have warned that the huge rise in bookings since the loosening was announced will mean long queues.

Before Covid, three-quarters of people who passed through the U.K.’s border did not require any documentation checks other than verifying that their identity matched their passport.

Lucy Moreton, Professional Officer for the ISU Immigration Union, representing frontline border staff, told the Times: “This decision will open up foreign travel to a large number of new travellers. But we are not set up to cope with that sort of demand. 

“There is no way that the border can maintain that level of checks as the number of travellers increase.

“We’ve got away with it so far because the number of travellers are so low. But even at this point we’re seeing queues of one to two hours. 

“From the number of bookings we’ve seen already, we’ll easily see three, four-hour queues when people start returning from their holidays.”

Worth reading in full.

300 Italian Health Workers Launch Legal Action against Government over Mandatory Vaccination

300 healthcare workers across Italy have launched a “democratic battle” against mandatory vaccination in the form of a legal challenge against their Government. Barron’s has the story.

The case, brought by professionals throughout northern Italy, will be heard on July 14th.

“This isn’t a battle by ‘anti-vaxxers’ but a democratic battle,” Constitutional Lawyer Daniele Granara, who helped build up the case, was cited as saying in the Giornale di Brescia newspaper.

“We force people to take a risk under threat of no longer being allowed to exercise their profession,” he added.

Granara is also defending dozens of caregivers who have been suspended from work for refusing to be vaccinated.

Italy passed a law in April obliging anyone working in public or private social health positions, including in pharmacies and doctors’ offices, to get vaccinated against Covid or be suspended without pay, unless their employer can reassign them to a less sensitive position.

After the elderly and vulnerable, caregivers including teachers were the first to be vaccinated in Italy.

While the British GMB Union has warned that more than a third of its members in social care would consider quitting if vaccines are mandated, the Government has not yet been faced by legal action on the matter.

Worth reading in full.

Up to 80% of Sicilians Refuse AstraZeneca Vaccine

Despite attempts by the Sicilian President to soothe fears over the relationship between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots, as many as four in five people in the Southern Italian region are refusing the AZ jab. According to the Telegraph, President Nello Musumeci said: “In Sicily, there is an 80% refusal rate of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Every 100 people, 80 say no.” His spokeswoman clarified that the refusal rate is “up to” 80%, rather than 80% dead-on, citing the town of Syracuse as an example, where the rate is 30%. Musumeci urged people to look beyond their personal concerns and to take the vaccine when given the opportunity:

“It is natural [for people to be particularly concerned], but we have a duty to believe scientists when they say it is more dangerous not to get vaccinated than to get vaccinated.”

Italy was among the first nations to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in early March due to concerns about its link to blood clots. In an interview with La Stampa, Franco Locatelli, the Italian Government’s top scientific advisor on Covid, said that fears over the AZ vaccine are “understandable, but unjustified”.

“I say that we are offering a vaccine that is safe and effective, which people must accept. That said, if we find ourselves facing a disarming number of defections, we will reconsider the issue.”

Sicily’s refusal rate is indicative of the damage done to the reputation of the AstraZeneca vaccine by reports on its side effects. Similarly, in Denmark, a recent survey found that far more Danes would decline to get an AstraZeneca Covid vaccine than would refuse to get a Covid jab altogether. Reuters reported:

One in three Danes would decline to get a Covid shot using AstraZeneca’s vaccine, local media outlets TV 2 and Politiken reported late on Wednesday, citing a recent survey. …

The survey, conducted by Megafon among 1,053 persons, showed 33% of Danes would decline to get a shot with AstraZeneca’s vaccine. However, only 7% would decline regardless of which Covid vaccine they were offered.

Polling suggests that Brits are more trustworthy of the AstraZeneca vaccine regardless of its links to blood clots. In a new YouGov survey, at least 75% of British respondents said that they trust the AZ jab.

Covid Vaccinations Made Mandatory for All Health Workers in Italy

The Italian Government has mandated Covid vaccines for all health workers, warning that those who do not take the jab could lose their jobs at least until the end of the year. The Mail has the story.

Italy has mandated Covid vaccines for all health workers in a move aimed at crushing anti-vax sentiment.  

Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who stands at the vanguard in the EU’s jabs battle with Britain, said health workers, including pharmacists, who refused the vaccine could be struck off until the end of the year. 

Italy’s vaccine roll-out, dented by the EU’s failure to secure AstraZeneca doses, is faltering with just 16.03% of its population inoculated, compared to more than 50% of people in Britain, amid soaring infections.

The country’s entrenched anti-vaccination movement came into sharp focus after the recent discovery of clusters of hospital staff refusing the jab despite Italy having Europe’s highest death toll. …

Italy’s Government said today: “The aim of the measure is to protect as much as possible both medical and paramedical staff and those who are in environments that may be more exposed to the risk of infection.”

The decree also introduces legal protection for those who administer the jabs, a measure doctors and nurses had demanded after medics were placed under investigation for manslaughter following the death of a vaccinated man in Sicily.

Cabinet plans leaked last month revealed that care home workers in England will also be required by law to have a Covid jab. Similar requirements are being considered for other healthcare workers, such as those who work on hospital wards. The Telegraph reported:

The Cabinet sub-committee paper warns that a “large” number of social care workers may quit if the change is made, and that successful lawsuits on human rights grounds could be possible. It makes clear that a similar legal requirement is being considered for some frontline healthcare workers, such as those on wards, but no decision on that has been taken. …

Its key line is understood to read: “The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State [Mr Hancock] have discussed on several occasions the progress that is being made to vaccinate social care workers against Covid and have agreed – in order to reach a position of much greater safety for care recipients – to put in place legislation to require vaccinations among the workforce.”

The sentence makes it clear that both have decided in principle to change the law to require the vaccination of social care workers, even as the specifics are worked up. Government officials are discussing what the legislation would look like, with consultation on a final detailed proposal expected.

The Italian Government’s decision to mandate vaccines for all health workers is likely to encourage the British Government to extend its current plans – in the same way that Italy played a crucial role in bringing lockdowns to Britain last year. In December, Professor Neil Ferguson revealed that Italy boosted the confidence of British pro-lockdown officials:

[China is] a communist one party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought. … And then Italy did it. And we realised we could.

The Mail’s report is worth reading in full.

Italy and France to “Quickly Resume” AstraZeneca Rollout When EU Medicines Agency Gives Green Light

The leaders of Italy and France have made it clear that they will “quickly resume” their countries’ rollouts of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine when the European Medicines Agency gives the green light, as it’s expected to on Thursday. MailOnline has the story.

The leaders of Italy and France today committed to “quickly” resume inoculations of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine once the European regulator gives the all-clear. 

Italian PM Mario Draghi and French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to roll the pitch for an imminent climbdown.

On a call the two leaders agreed they were ready to resume using the jab “quickly” if the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gives the green light on Thursday.

Mario Draghi’s office said “the preliminary statement today from EMA was positive”. The EMA has found “no indication” that AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine is the cause of reported blood clots.

A top European Commission official today urged EU governments to stop sitting on their vaccine stockpiles.

Stella Kyriakides, the Health Commissioner, said the bloc was in a “race against time” to roll out the vaccine or face several more spikes in infections.

The EU has already seen a disastrous rollout of the vaccine across the continent, with just 8% of adults receiving a jab compared to a third in the UK.

There have been supply problems with both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer jabs, but it was revealed earlier that several countries including Germany are sitting on stockpiles.

“Even with the immense and regrettable challenges around production capacity and deliveries, there are reports of unused reservoirs of vaccines across the EU,” said Kyriakides following talks with European health ministers. …

While Italy has used all of its Pfizer jabs, the country still has 250,000 AstraZeneca vaccines that it banned from going to Australia in storage.

According to the Times, there are some 14.2 million jabs (60%) delivered to EU governments that are yet to be used. 

It seems as though this saga is coming to an end. But might another now commence over Pfizer’s Covid vaccine, which has been linked to more blood clots than AstraZeneca’s in reports from the UK? That’s unlikely given that the Chief of Italy’s medicines regulator has claimed that bans across Europe of the AstraZeneca vaccine were the results of “political” choices.

Worth reading in full.