Employers and workers face heavy fines if caught in violation of Italy's new Super Green Pass rules.
Italy’s covid-19 vaccination mandate for the over-50s kicks in today, Tuesday 15 February, as the government ramps up its Super Green Pass rules for the unvaccinated.
The compulsory vaccine mandate applies to everyone in Italy aged 50 or over, with unvaccinated workers to be suspended without pay and employees who go to work without the Super Green Pass risking fines of between €600 and €1,500.
The Super Green Pass is a "reinforced" version of the "basic" Green Pass and can only be obtained by those who have been vaccinated or recovered from covid-19.
The digital certificate is needed to access restaurants, bars, cinemas, theatres, night clubs, stadiums and public transport in Italy.
The basic Green Pass - required for a wide range of activities and services from banks and post offices to hairdressers and tobacconists - can be obtained by a negative covid test. It remains a requirement for Italy's workers under the age of 50.
With around 1.4 million people in Italy over 50 still not vaccinated against covid-19, there is considerable resistance to the vaccine mandate, one of the strictest of its kind in Europe.
However, despite the opposition, Monday's much-hyped "March on Rome" protest by the No Vax and No Green Pass movements turned out to be a flop, with only about 200 people showing up in the central Piazza Venezia.
At the start of February the government also introduced a €100 fine for over-50s who are not vaccinated.
Health minister Roberto Speranza said on Italian TV show Mezz'ora in più on Sunday that the decision to make vaccinations compulsory for the over-50s was "correct and courageous", adding: "We must still insist on vaccinations."
The over-50 vaccine mandate is scheduled to remain in force until 15 June however there is already talk that the requirement could be extended beyond this date.
"We must try in every way to reduce the number of unvaccinated people", deputy health minister Andrea Costa said on Sunday, adding that it is the unvaccinated "who mainly occupy intensive care units".
Walter Ricciardi, the coronavirus advisor to the health ministry, told La Repubblica newspaper on Monday that the over-50s vaccine mandate and the Green Pass "must be maintained for all of 2022."
The Green Pass system along with vaccinations "must become the two pillars of the new normal" - said Ricciardi - "If we remove them we are at risk. It would be the third time we make the same mistake."
Almost 89 per cent of Italy's population over the age of 12 has been vaccinated and 36 million people have received a third dose.
For official information about the covid-19 situation in Italy (in English) see the health ministry website. Photo Mike Dotta / Shutterstock.com.