Vaccine reservations jump in Italy after COVID health pass is made mandatory


An employee shows her the “Green Pass,” a document proving immunity to coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at an office in Rome, Italy, September 16, 2021. REUTERS / Yara Nardi

ROME, September 17 (Reuters) – Reservations for COVID-19 vaccinations jumped in Italy on Friday after the government made vaccination mandatory for all workers under some of the toughest anti-coronavirus measures adopted in the world.

The number of people making an appointment has more than doubled compared to the previous day in the northeastern region of Veneto, while in Tuscany they have almost tripled, according to provisional data.

In Italy’s largest region, Lombardy, daily bookings jumped to more than 17,000 on Thursday, from 9,500 a day earlier. Data for Friday was not immediately available.

Elsewhere, a constant flow of people headed for vaccination centers where reservations were no longer needed.

“I came because otherwise they won’t let me work on the construction site,” said Henry Tuku, 30, a migrant entering a site offering free vaccines near Rome’s central train station.

As of October 15, any worker who does not present proof of vaccination, a negative COVID test or a recent recovery from an infection will be automatically suspended without pay.

People who ignore the decree and go to work anyway face a fine of 600 to 1,500 euros ($ 705 to $ 1,175). Companies that do not ensure that their staff obey the rules will be fined between 400 and 1,000 euros.

“This is aimed at preventing a new wave of contagion and a new blockade for the Italian economy,” said Vincenzo de Luca, governor of the Naples-centered southern Campania region.

“I am happy. We have entered a period where democracy advances on the basis of decisions, not gossip,” he said in a post on Facebook.

Previously, Italy had made vaccines mandatory for health workers and later said school staff must have a COVID-19 “Green Pass” to work.

Most parties supported Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s decision to extend the laissez-passer to all 23 million Italian workers.

Some far-right groups have vowed to fight it and opponents have called for nationwide protests over the weekend, but it was not clear how many people would take to the streets. The latest such call failed last month when the Green Pass was made mandatory for high-speed trains.

Italy has the second highest death toll from COVID-19 in Europe after Britain, with more than 130,200 people having died from the disease since the pandemic first appeared in early 2020.

About 74% of its 60 million people have received at least one injection of COVID-19 and 68.6% are fully vaccinated, figures broadly in line with most other countries in the EU.

Additional reporting by Emilio Parodi; Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by David Gregorio

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