World·THE LATEST

Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday

In Europe, protests erupted in Italy on Friday as one of the most stringent anti-coronavirus measures in Europe went into effect, requiring all workers, from magistrates to maids, to show a health pass to get into their place of employment.

Protests erupt across Italy as strict COVID-19 workplace pass takes effect

Italy adopts strictest COVID-19 measures in Europe with new green pass

1 month ago
2:03
Italy now has the strictest COVID-19 measures in all of Europe with its new green pass system. The pass requires workers to present either proof of vaccination, immunity or a negative test in the last 48 hours to enter public and private workplaces. 2:03

The latest:

  • Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email: Covid@cbc.ca

In Europe, protests erupted in Italy on Friday as one of the most stringent anti-coronavirus measures in Europe went into effect, requiring all workers, from magistrates to maids, to show a health pass to get into their place of employment.

Police were out in force, some schools ended classes early and embassies issued warnings of possible violence amid concerns that the anti-vaccination demonstrations could turn into riots, as they did in Rome last weekend.

But by day's end, the protests appeared to have been largely peaceful, including one at Rome's central Circus Maximus where some protesters gave police officers flowers in a sign they meant no harm.

The green pass shows proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months. Italy already required the pass to access all sorts of indoor environments, including restaurants, museums, theaters, and long-distance trains.

PHOTOS | Protests greet debut of workplace green pass in Italy:

But the addition of the workplace requirement has sparked heated debate and opposition in a country that was a coronavirus epicentre early in the pandemic but has kept the latest resurgence in check through continued mask mandates and one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe.

The new rule in a country that imposed the first COVID-19 lockdown and production shutdown in the West imposes a burden on worker and employer alike. Electronic scanners that can read cellphone QR codes with the green pass were set up at bigger places of employment, such as the office of Italian Premier Mario Draghi and the headquarters of state railway company Trenitalia.

Sanctions for employers who fail to check employees range from 400 to 1,000 euros ($575 to $1,437 Cdn). A worker who fails to show a valid pass is considered absent without justification and could face fines from 600 to 1,500 euros ($862 to $2,155 Cdn).

The aim of the requirement is to encourage vaccination rates to rise beyond the current 81 per cent of the population over age 12 who are fully inoculated. And if recent days are any indication, it was working: The number of first shots administered Thursday rose 34 per cent compared to the beginning of the week, Italy's virus czar reported Friday.

But for those people who can't or won't get their shots, the expanded pass requirement imposes a burden of getting tested every 48 hours just to be able to go to work. People with a proven medical condition that prevents them being vaccinated are exempt.

A worker shows a green pass outside their workplace in Rome on Friday. The new measure requiring all Italian workers to show the COVID-19 health pass as proof of vaccination at their place of employment has sparked heated debate and opposition. (Yara Nardi/Reuters)

Some employers are offering free tests at work, but the government has refused calls to make testing free across the board. Currently rapid tests run from eight euros ($11.50 Cdn) for children to 15 euros ($21.55 Cdn) for adults.

For some opponents, the requirement is disproportionate to the current need: Italy has kept the latest delta variant-fuelled resurgence largely under control through continued mask use and physical distancing, reporting around 67 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the past two weeks.

But proponents say the requirement will keep workplaces safe and allow Italy's economy, which shrank 8.9 per cent last year, to further rebound.


What's happening in Canada

WATCH | Some Ontarians can now download QR vaccine certificates: 

Some Ontarians can now download QR code COVID-19 vaccine certificates

1 month ago
1:17
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Friday people born between January and April can now download their COVID-19 vaccine certificate QR codes on the Ontario Health website. Those with birthdays between May and August can do so Oct. 16, and those born between September and December can do so as of Oct. 17. 1:17
  • P.E.I. logs 3 new cases, including a child under 12 years of age.
  • N.S. reports 18 new cases, bringing province's active caseload to 199.

What's happening around the world

As of Friday, more than 239.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.8 million.

In the Americas, hundreds of white flags were put up in front of Brazil's Congress on Friday, to protest more than 600,000 COVID-19 deaths in the country — the second highest toll in the world behind the U.S.

An activist places white flags representing people who have died of COVID-19 outside Congress in Brasilia, Brazil, on Friday. (Eraldo Peres/The Associated Press)

In Asia, South Korean officials will partially ease virus restrictions in the hard-hit capital region starting next week to address a battered economy and pandemic fatigue.

In Africa, South Africa will start vaccinating children between the ages of 12 and 17 next week using the Pfizer vaccine, the health minister said.

Elsewhere in Europe, COVID-19 tests in France are no longer free for unvaccinated adults unless they are prescribed by a doctor.

With files from Reuters and CBC News

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now