Protests Greet Italy's New Health Pass

Italy's unvaccinated will need several coronavirus tests a week or face suspension
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2021 3:50 PM CDT
Port Workers Protest Italy's New COVID Pass
Port workers gather Friday during a protest in Trieste, Italy, against the new required pass showing an employees COVID-19 status.   (Duccio Pugliese/LaPresse via AP)

(Newser) – A law requiring all workers to carry a health pass showing their COVID-19 status took effect Friday in Italy, bringing protests at ports. The biggest crowd, about 6,000, gathered in the northeastern port of Trieste, CNN reports, where labor groups had threatened to disrupt operations. "It's not a health regulation," said a 59-year-old port employee, "it's just a political move to create division among people." The unvaccinated rate for Trieste workers is about 40%, a union official said, about double the rate for the nation's population at large.

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The regional governor said that the port was functioning but that he expected problems, given that all employees weren't on the job. In Italy's other major port, Genoa, about 200 workers blocked trucks at two entrances. "We are not against the Green Pass per se," a labor leader in Genoa said. "But we want the companies to pay for testing for all the port workers and a testing hub inside the port." There were protests in other cities, but crowds overall fell short of organizers' expectations, per the New York Times.

Under the new law, anyone on a public or private payroll has to have the government-issued Green Pass, complete with QR code, when they're on the job. The card is their proof of being fully vaccinated, recovered from a recent infection, or testing in the past 48 hours. Not having the card with them can bring a fine of 1,730 and suspension without pay, per CNN. If employers allow workers to do their jobs anyway, they too can be fined. The government estimates that 15% of employees in the private sector 8% in the public sector don't have a pass.

Paying for the $20 tests is a big issue among other workers, as well. The government has pointed out the vaccinations are free, and the health minister said making tests free would undermine the incentives to get the shots. Some workers don't like either option. "This measure is by a fascist government," an unvaccinated demonstrator in Rome said Friday, likening requiring workers to pay for coronavirus tests to extortion by the government. A furrier demonstrating in Florence said he's going to stop working on Fridays so he won't have to be tested as often. "I simply don't want to get vaccinated and I won't," another protester said. "I should still be allowed to work." (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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