- Have a question about the coronavirus or a topical tip for CBC News? Email: [email protected]
In Europe, protests erupted in Italy on Friday as one of Europe’s toughest anti-coronavirus measures went into effect, demanding that all workers, from magistrates to chambermaids, present a health pass for enter their workplace.
Police were out in force, some schools ended classes earlier, and embassies warned of possible violence, fearing anti-vaccination protests could turn into riots, as they did in Rome at weekends. -end last.
But by the end of the day, the protests appeared to have been largely peaceful, including one at Rome’s central Circus Maximus, where some protesters offered flowers to police as a sign they didn’t mean harm.
The green pass shows proof of vaccination, a recent negative test, or having recovered from COVID-19 within the past six months. Italy already required the pass to access all kinds of indoor environments, including restaurants, museums, theaters and long-distance trains.
But the addition of the workplace requirement has sparked heated debate and opposition in a country that was a coronavirus epicenter at the start of the pandemic, but has brought the latest resurgence under control through continued mask mandates. and one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe.
The new rule in a country that imposed the West’s first lockdown and shutdown of COVID-19 production places a burden on both workers and employers. Electronic scanners capable of reading QR codes from mobile phones with the green pass have been installed in larger workplaces, such as the office of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and the headquarters of the national railway company Trenitalia.
Penalties for employers who fail to verify employees range from 400 to 1,000 euros ($ 575 to $ 1,437 CAN). A worker who does not present a valid pass is considered absent without justification and is liable to fines of 600 to 1,500 euros ($ 862 to $ 2,155 CAN).
The goal of this requirement is to encourage vaccination rates to exceed the current 81% of the population over 12 who are fully vaccinated. And if the past few days are any indication, it was working: The number of first vaccines administered on Thursday increased by 34% from the start of the week, the Italian virus czar reported on Friday.
But for people who can’t or won’t get vaccinated, the expanded pass requirement places the burden of getting tested every 48 hours just so they can go to work. People with a proven medical condition that prevents them from getting vaccinated are exempt.
Some employers offer free tests at work, but the government has refused calls to make tests free in all areas. Currently, rapid tests range from eight euros (C $ 11.50) for children to 15 euros (C $ 21.55) for adults.
For some opponents, the requirement is disproportionate to current needs: Italy has largely contained the latest resurgence fueled by delta variants through continued mask use and physical distancing, reporting around 67 cases per 100 000 inhabitants in the past two weeks.
But supporters say the requirement will keep workplaces safe and allow Italy’s economy, which fell 8.9% last year, to rebound further.
What is happening in Canada
- Prince Edward Island has 3 new cases, including a child under 12 years old.
- Nova Scotia reports 18 new cases, bringing the number of active cases in the province to 199.
What is happening in the world
As of Friday, more than 239.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker. The death toll worldwide was over 4.8 million.
In the Americas, hundreds of white flags were hoisted in front of the Brazilian Congress on Friday, to protest against more than 600,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the country – the second highest death toll in the world behind the United States
In Asia, South Korean officials will partially ease virus restrictions in the hard-hit capital region from next week to deal with a struggling economy and pandemic fatigue.
In Africa, South Africa will start immunizing children aged 12 to 17 next week using the Pfizer vaccine, the health minister said.
Elsewhere in Europe, COVID-19 tests in France are no longer free for unvaccinated adults unless they are prescribed by a doctor.