Tension as Italy brings in new Green Pass rules for 23 million workers.
Italy is braced for protests and strikes as Mario Draghi's government introduces sweeping anti-covid legislation, among the toughest in the world, requiring all workers to have a Green Pass from Friday 15 October.
The Green Pass - a certificate showing that people have been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative for covid-19 within the previous 48 hours - is now compulsory for all public and private sector workers in Italy.
Police are stepping up security at locations such as ministries and state insitutions, as well as airports, ports, railway stations and motorways, amid concerns of unrest and blockades.
There is opposition to the Green Pass, which affects some 23 million workers, with risks of disruption to the supply chain across Italy as dockers and hauliers threaten to strike.
Italy also faces the potential of staff shortages, with media reports of some pharmacies booked solid for covid tests until the end of the year.
Under the government's Green Pass system, unvaccinated workers can go to work but only if they undergo a €15 covid test every 48 hours, at their own expense.
Workers caught violating the new rules can be suspended without pay, however nobody can be fired for not having the health certificate.
Those who go to work without the Green Pass risk fines of up to €1,500, while businesses who fail to carry out checks can be fined up to €1,000.
In the capital, security has been increased amid concerns of a repeat of last weekend's violence, fuelled by extreme right activists, ahead of a protest due to take place at the Circus Maximus at 16.00.
There will reportedly be 1,000 police officers on duty at the 'No Green Pass' demonstration which is likely to result in the area being closed to traffic in the afternoon, with parts of the Palatine Hill closing to visitors early.
Around 2,000 people are expected at the Circo Massimo protest, perhaps more, according to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
Security chiefs have already moved the venue of the protest twice, first from the central Piazza SS. Apostoli - over concerns it was too near parliament - then to Piazza Bocca della Verita which was subsequently deemed too small to cope with the crowd expected.
The Green Pass demo in Rome takes place against the backdrop of a mayoral run-off and a major anti-fascist rally organised in response to the storming of the CGIL trade union headquarters on Saturday.
Around 1,000 dockers and several thousand othere in the north-eastern port of Trieste are protesting over the Green Pass this morning, reports news agency ANSA, however it was business as usual at the port of Venice.
Protests have also been called outside the factory gates of Fiat Avio near Turin, Pirelli at Settimo Torinese, Iveco in Torino and Gallina at La Loggia, according to ANSA.
The Trieste dockers have threatened that if the Green Pass obligation in the workplace is not withdrawn, activity will come to a halt in the port where 40 per cent of the workers are allegedly unvaccinated.
Italy's vaccine campaign
Almost 81 per cent of Italy's population over the age of 12 has been fully vaccinated, with the Green Pass designed to accelerate vaccinations and stamp out covid infections.
A recent survey conducted by EngageMinds HUB found that 56 per cent of Italians believe the Green Pass is effective and useful in Italy's battle against covid-19.
The obligation to have the Green Pass in the workplace is supported by trade unions and business groups however it continues to cause division among workers in Italy.
What is Italy's Green Pass?
Italy's Green Pass, or certificazione verde, was first introduced in the summer for travel within the EU and to facilitate access to large events such as weddings or to visit nursing homes.
However the scope of the Green Pass - which does not apply to children under 12 - has since been expanded progressively.
The Green Pass is required for indoor dining in restaurants and long-distance domestic travel as well as a host of cultural, leisure and social activities, such as museums, swimming pools and nightclubs.
Details about the Green Pass can be found - in Italian - on the Certificazione Verde website while for official information about the covid-19 situation in Italy - in English - see the health ministry website.
Photo credit: Today
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