A “No Green Pass” protest on September 11, 2021 in Turin, Italy.

Stefano Guidi | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON – Italy became the first European country to make a Covid certificate mandatory for all workers as countries take stronger measures to increase vaccination rates.

From mid-October, any Italian worker who does not present a valid certificate will face suspension and their wages could be suspended after five days, the government said on Thursday.

The document, which can be digital or paper, indicates whether a person has been vaccinated, recently recovered from the virus, or tested negative for Covid. It was originally created at the EU level to support intra-European travel, but Italy was one of the first countries to also use it as a requirement for access to venues such as museums and gyms.

According to the European Center for Disease and Control, 73.8% of Italians are fully vaccinated against the virus.

However, authorities want to avoid another spike in cases as winter approaches.

“We are extending the Green Passport obligation to the entire world of work, public and private, and this for two main reasons: to make these places safer and to make our vaccination campaign even stronger,” Roberto Speranza, Italy’s health minister, said loudly on Thursday euronews in front of journalists.

In Italy there were several protests against the use of the Green Pass this summer. However, political parties and trade unions have so far supported the decision to avoid further lockdowns, which hit many sectors hard.

The announcement in Italy followed a decision in France to suspend around 3,000 health workers for not vaccinating against Covid-19.

France suspends unvaccinated health workers

The French authorities estimated last week that around 12% of hospital staff and 6% of general practitioners were not vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to France24. Earlier this summer, the government made vaccination mandatory for healthcare workers until September 15.

The country’s health minister, Olivier Veran, said in a radio interview on Thursday the suspensions were temporary and continued health care was guaranteed. He told RTL that “responsible carers have been vaccinated to protect themselves and their patients”.

Other European countries have followed a similar approach: Greece introduced compulsory vaccination for nursing home and medical workers, and Italy declared that unvaccinated health workers could be suspended for free.

In France, 80.7% of the population are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. The EU average is 71.5%.