With the publication in the Official Gazette of the Decree Law n. 172/2021 on “Urgent measures to contain the COVID-19 diffusion and for the safe conduct of economic and social activities” new measures were adopted by the Government. The text of the decree-law provides for a series of measures to contain the ‘fourth wave’ of the pandemic, that can be distinguished in four areas: (i) compulsory vaccination and third dose, (ii) extension of compulsory vaccination to new categories; (iii) duration of Covid 19 Green Certifications and establishment of the so called reinforced Green Pass; (iv) reinforced controls and promotional campaigns on vaccination.
1) Vaccination obligations
With an amendment to Decree-Law no. 44 of 1 April 2021, converted, with amendments, by Law no. 76 of 28 May 2021, the compliance with the vaccination requirement is “broadened” as to include, as of 15 December 2021, the administration of the booster dose (the third one) following the primary vaccination cycle.
The extension of the vaccination obligation to the third dose as of 15 December 2021 is directed to all those categories who were already subject to a vaccination obligation in order to carry out their work activity, considered the particular nature of their work (those involved in the healthcare sector).
Therefore, in order to protect the public health and maintain adequate safety conditions in the provision of care and assistance, health professionals and health care workers, for the prevention of infection by SARS-CoV-2, are obliged to undergo a full cycle vaccination, including, as of 15 December 2021, the administration of the booster dose following the primary vaccination cycle. Vaccination is in such cases considered as an essential requirement for the exercise of the profession and for the performance of the work services of the obliged persons. Only in the event of an ascertained danger to health in relation to specific documented clinical conditions of the obliged person, certified in compliance with the circulars of the Ministry of Health on exemption from the anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccination, the obligation for the interested professional or worker is overcome and the vaccination can be legally avoided.
2) Extension of compulsory vaccination
With an amendment to Decree-Law 1 April 2021, n. 44, converted, with amendments by the Law of 28 to May 2021, n. 76, the compulsory vaccination from 15 December 2021 is set forth also for other categories. Those are: teachers and staff employees of the schools, persons belonging to the sector of defense (army), police, public rescue, local police, penitentiary institutions and facilities under Article 8-ter of Legislative Decree 30 December 1992, no. 502 which are: a) facilities that provide hospitalization for acute cases; b) facilities that provide specialist medical assistance, including rehabilitation, instrumental and laboratory diagnostics; c) health and sociomedical facilities that provide services in residential regime. In above mentioned cases, vaccination constitutes an essential requisite for the performance of the working activities of the obliged persons, both professional and non-professional jobs.
3) Duration of COVID-19 green certifications and establishment of the so called reinforced Green Pass
Amendments have been approved to Article 9 of Decree-Law No. 52 of 22 April 2021, converted, with amendments, by Law No. 87 of 17 June 2021 (the amendments are in force starting from 15 December 2021).
COVID-19 green certifications are released to whom being in one of the following conditions:
- full anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccination, upon completion of the primary vaccination cycle or administration of the relevant booster dose;
- recovery from COVID-19, with simultaneous termination of the isolation prescribed following infection with SARS-Cov-2, in accordance with the criteria established in the circulars of the Ministry of Health;
- performance of a rapid antigenic or molecular test, the latter also on a saliva sample and in compliance with the criteria established in the circular of the Ministry of Health, with a negative result for the SARS-Cov-2 virus;
- c-bis recovery from COVID-19 after administration of the first dose of vaccine or at the end of the primary vaccination cycle or administration of the relevant booster dose.
The green certification COVID-19 issued on the basis of the condition provided for in letter A. has a validity of nine months from the date of completion of the primary vaccination cycle and is automatically issued to the interested party.
In the event of the administration of the booster dose following the primary vaccination cycle, the green COVID-19 certificate is valid for nine months from the date of the latter administration.
The green COVID-19 certificate issued on the basis of the condition envisaged by letter B. is valid for six months from the date of recovery and is issued, at the request of the interested party, in paper or digital format.
The COVID-19 green certificate issued on the basis of the condition set forth in letter C. is valid for 48 hours from the performance of the rapid antigenic test and 72 hours from the performance of the molecular test, and is released, at the request of the interested party, in paper or digital format.
As far as cases under letter D. (c-bis recovery) are concerned, individuals who have been identified as positive for SARS-CoV-2 after the fourteenth day following the administration of the first dose of vaccine, as well as following the primary vaccination cycle or the administration of the relevant booster dose, are also issued with a green COVID-19 certificate, which is valid for nine months from the date of recovery.
In addition, as of 6 December 2021, the ‘reinforced green pass’ has entered into force. This is no more than the Green Pass released to vaccinated and recovered people which is now differentiated by the Green Pass obtainable through swabs.
The enhanced green pass will be indispensable for free access to cinemas, hotels, theatres, gyms, ski resorts, bars and restaurants, and as said will last nine months from the date of completion of the vaccination cycle or six months from the date of recovery from the infection.
Therefore, from 6 December 2021 until 15 January 2022, the reinforced green certificate will be indispensable to allow entry to:
- ski resorts;
- bars and restaurants.
Swabs (antigenic and molecular) will remain a valid title only for obtain access to work, public transportation and other activities deemed essential.
4) Controls and information campaigns
Each territorially competent Prefect (a local representative of the Minster of the Interior) is required to adopt a plan for the constant carrying out of controls, also on a sample basis, making use of the police forces and of the personnel of the municipal police corps, in order to guarantee the compliance with the rules concerning green certifications. Each Prefect sends the Minister of the Interior a weekly report on the checks carried out in the area under his jurisdiction.
In addition, in order to promote a higher level of vaccination coverage, the Department for Information and Publishing of the Prime Minister Office shall draw up a plan to guarantee the widest possible space in the mass media for information and awareness campaigns on the anti-Sars-CoV-2 vaccination.
Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel
Some practical explanations about the difference between Green Pass and Reinforced Green Pass include: