COVID hit Europe first and possibly hardest in Italy, most likely due to the country’s strong economic ties with China and the large number of Chinese migrant workers living there. Italy now has the strictest COVID regulations in the world; as of last Friday, all Italian workers, in both the public and the private sectors, are required to present a “green pass” in order to access their workplaces. That means that any Italian who isn’t fully vaccinated must pay for regular COVID tests (taken every two days), unless he has a certificate of recovery from coronavirus from within the last six months.
Around eighty percent of Italians over the age of 12 have been vaccinated so far, but that still leaves around three million unvaccinated workers who face suspension and fines of up to $1760 for failing to comply with the new laws in place. In protest, demonstrations have broken out in cities across Italy, sometimes violent, with police facing off against furious citizens, causing unrest and economic disturbance.
Meanwhile, unvaccinated staff members at a company in northern Italy have accused their employer of discriminatory behavior, after, they allege, they were forced to work “in a filthy storeroom full of animal excrement,” The Guardian reports.
Employers who fail to check on the COVID-status of their staff also face penalties, but these particular workers had presented negative test results, they said – and they were still discriminated against, not only by being sent to work in substandard conditions, but also by being barred from entering the main company building and also the canteen.
Responding to the allegations, the company owner told the Ansa news agency that, “We separated those who are completely secure from those who are less so.”
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