Italy was rocked by anti-vaccination protests Friday as new COVID-19 health passes became mandatory for all workers across the country.
Police were out in force amid fears anti-vaccination demonstrations could turn violent as Italy’s anti-COVID measures – one of the strictest in the world — came into effect.
Schools were planning to end classes early and embassies issued warnings of possible violence in preparation for the protests.
Italy has now made it compulsory for every worker in the country to show its “Green Pass” to get into their place of employment.
The pass calls for proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months.
Port workers in Genoa and Trieste on Friday threatened to affect commercial activities with their protests, but the ports still appeared to be operational.
“The Green Pass is a bad thing, it is discrimination under the law. Nothing more. It’s not a health regulation, it’s just a political move to create division among people,” Fabio Bocin, a 59-year old port worker in Trieste, told Reuters.
Elsewhere, riot police guarded a small rally in Rome where protestors were screaming “No Green Pass” and others shouted “Liberta”, which means “freedom”, at a largely peaceful demonstration in Florence.
The introduction of the health pass has sparked heated debate across Italy where about 80 percent of those aged over 12 have already been fully vaccinated.
The country had already been requiring the Green Pass in order for people to access restaurants, museums, theaters, and long-haul trains.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s cabinet approved the rule to mandate the health pass for all workers in mid-September.
Roughly 15 percent of private and 8 percent of public sector workers currently have no Green Pass, estimates from internal government documents show.
Under the new mandate, which will remain in effect until the end of the year, workers without a health pass will be suspended without pay and face fines up to 1,500 euros ($1,730) if they still try to work.
With Post wires