A coercive vaccine mandate came into effect in Italy on Friday, prompting nationwide protests and acts of civil disobedience. The policy requires all Italian workers to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, provide proof of a recent recovery, or receive several negative coronavirus tests per week.
The rule is intended to get more Italians to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, even though 80 percent of the population over 12 years old is already fully vaccinated. In Italy, COVID-19 tests are not free, so workers will need to pay for their own tests unless their employers are willing to pay for them. This prompted criticism from Maurizio Landini, the head of Italy’s largest labor union, who called for the tests to be made available at no cost.
Italy’s labor minister, Andrea Orlando, said that providing unvaccinated workers with free COVID tests would “undercut incentives for them to get inoculated.”
Italy’s vaccine passport also requires proof of recent infection within the past six months even though it is unclear how long vaccine immunity lasts compared to natural immunity. A peer-reviewed study published in Israel and a professor of epidemiology at Yale University, Dr. Harvey Risch, contend that natural immunity lasts longer than immunity conferred from vaccination.
Port workers in Trieste, one of Italy’s biggest shipping and transport hubs, protested in response to the policy. Sandi Volk, a union leader at the port, noted that the workers were “peacefully standing before the gate” to disrupt the daily activities of their work. Of the 1,000 people who work at the port, 600 of them protested against the vaccine mandate policy. They were joined by thousands of allies in protest. About 200 port workers in Genoa protested as well.
While these acts of civil disobedience are new, protests against Italy’s vaccine requirements are not. Last week, tens of thousands of Italians gathered in Rome to protest against what has been described as the “toughest in the world” vaccine mandate. The protests prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be evacuated from the Vatican, who was coincidentally there to meet with the pope.
On Wednesday, Australia’s Northern Territory announced the “strictest vaccine mandate in the world,” which would require all “public-facing workers” to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Workers that would be required to get the vaccine include: teachers, childcare workers, tutors, coaches, dancing teachers, swimming instructors, and people in “customer facing roles” such as in retail, finance, and hospitality.
Citizens who violate the policy may be fined $5,000.
In Australia, citizens have experienced unprecedented censorship, surveillance, and restrictions on freedom of movement. In Sydney, the military patrolled the city and enforced strict lockdowns, forcing residents to stay in their homes. A pregnant mother was arrested for planning an anti-lockdown protest.
In Southern Australia, the government forced residents to download Home Quarantine SA, an app that uses geolocation, text messages, and facial recognition technology to ensure people do not leave their homes. The government uses the app to randomly contact citizens to check their location, and gives them 15 minutes to upload a selfie to the app.
While Sydney began a partial reopening for fully vaccinated individuals on October 11, severe lockdown restrictions are still in place for those who are unvaccinated.
Australian New South Whales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said, “If you want to be able to have a meal with friends and welcome people into your home, you have to get vaccinated.”
These policies prompted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to remark: “[Australia’s] enforcing, after a year and a half, they’re still enforcing lockdowns by the military … That’s not a free country. It’s not a free country at all.”