ROME (Reuters) – The Italian government ruled on Thursday that catering and cleaning staff in schools and nursing homes can only work if they have proof of COVID-19 immunity, extending mandatory vaccination and the use of the so-called “Green Pass” document.
The health pass was already required for teachers in Italy, while mandatory vaccination for health workers was introduced in March.
The government said on Thursday that under the new rules people working in schools in any capacity must have the health document, and that all nursing home staff will have to be vaccinated.
The Green Pass — a digital or paper certificate showing someone has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, tested negative or has recently recovered from the virus — was originally conceived to facilitate travel among EU states.
However, Italy was among a group of countries that also made it an internal requirement for people to access a range of cultural and leisure venues such as museums, gyms and indoor dining in restaurants.
From Sept. 1 it became necessary for travel on inter-city transport Prime Minister Mario Draghi said it would be extended further, despite opposition from groups who say it tramples on freedoms and is a back-door way of making vaccination mandatory.
“We will expand the Green Pass requirement in coming weeks,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Thursday after the cabinet decreed the latest, limited extensions.
The issue has caused tensions in Draghi’s national unity coalition.
Several government officials have said the pass should become a requirement for all public sector workers and even private firms, but the right-wing League opposes this.
This week the League voted with a hard-right opposition party in parliament against the Green Pass requirement in restaurants.
Italy has the second-highest COVID-19 death toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth-highest in the world.
Around 72% of Italy’s 60-million-strong population have had at least one COVID shot.
(Reporting by Angelo Amante, editing by Gavin Jones and Cynthia Osterman)