Health pass. In Italy, Denmark, Hungary … stop or else?

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1. Italy: administrative fines

In Italy, on October 15, what is called the “green pass” entered into force in all workplaces. At this time, it is the only country to impose a health pass on all of its employees, both public and private. The control is done by the employer, who is prohibited from keeping the QR code of his employees. If he cannot check his employees’ documents every day, he must proceed by sample, checking at least 20% of them, by rotation.

The health pass is not necessary in the event of teleworking at the employer’s request, but its absence does not entitle you to telework. In the event of non-compliance, administrative fines range from 600 to 1,500 euros for employees, from 400 to 1,000 euros for employers. In the event of non-presentation of the health pass, the salary is suspended, but a worker cannot be dismissed. These measures had the effect of boosting registrations for vaccination appointments. Now in Italy at least 80% of those over 12 have gone through a full cycle of immunization.

These measures were taken after a discussion with the unions, however hostile to the generalization of the health pass, unlike the employers, promoters of this measure. Employee representatives demanded free testing for the unvaccinated, to no avail. The health pass is not unanimous. For its entry into force, some sectors, such as the ports, went on strike. Moreover, in this country which is experiencing a strong anti-vax movement, violent demonstrations were held – such as that of October 9 when the headquarters of the Cgil was attacked by neofascists – which raise fears that the Ministry of the Interior limits the freedom to demonstrate.

The health pass is accompanied by a panel of measures that are reduced as the epidemic recedes. The gauges for nightclubs and schools are increased. When the threshold of 90% immunized is reached, the government could end the compulsory wearing of masks in bars and public offices. The state of emergency is expected to be lifted on December 31.

2. Denmark: confidence reigns

Denmark was one of the first countries to bring the Covid certificate into force: from April, well before it was introduced at European level. It was used to enter the territory, to access certain places of culture or sports. At the end of August, the Minister of Health, Magnus Heunicke, judged the epidemic “under control”.

In a country where the government enjoys great citizens’ confidence, the vaccination campaign has had its effect: more than 85% of Danes of eligible age are vaccinated and, above 50 years, this rate is even by more than 96%! The Nordic state is among the top 6 most vaccinated countries in the world. Also, since September, the last restrictions – for access to nightclubs – have been lifted. However, the authorities point out that new measures could be introduced if the epidemic resumes.

3. Hungary: an extreme repressive arsenal

Hungary has also introduced a health pass, similar to that of other European countries. It is also the European country where the repressive arsenal, on the pretext of fighting the pandemic, has been pushed the furthest. The state of emergency law, adopted in 2020 by ultra-conservative Viktor Orban, allows the prime minister to suspend any law, without parliamentary scrutiny.

In addition, disseminating false news about the work of the executive may be punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment. The epidemic allowed Orban to test how far he could go.

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