The Italian government has approved some of the strictest anti-Covid measures in the world, making it obligatory for all workers either to show proof of vaccination, a negative test or recent recovery from infection.

The new rules will come into force on 15 October in the latest effort by Prime Minister Mario Draghi's broad coalition to persuade people to get inoculated and blunt contagion in one of the countries worst-hit by the virus.

Any worker who fails to present a valid health certificate will be suspended without pay, but cannot be sacked, according to a draft of the decree seen by Reuters.

The full details are due to be published later in the day.

People who ignore the decree and go to work regardless will face a fine of between €600 to €1,500.

While some European Union states have ordered their health workers to get vaccines, none have made the Green Pass mandatory for all employees, making Italy a test case for the continent.

The pass was originally conceived to ease travel around Europe, but Italy was among a group of countries that swiftly also made it a requirement for those wanting to access venues such as museums, gyms and indoor dining in restaurants.

There have been sporadic protests in Italy in recent weeks against the growing pressure to get a jab, but most political parties as well as the main employers' federation have backed the move, hoping it will prevent further economic lockdowns.

Union leaders have been more lukewarm, saying tests should be given freely to workers who refuse to be vaccinated, enabling them to remain on the job.

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Officials say that would encourage people to continue shunning vaccines. However, a government source said the cabinet would keep a firm lid on prices for tests, imposing a maximum fee of €15 for adults.

Italy was the first European country to be hit by a wave of coronavirus cases in February 2020, and it was plunged into a major recession. More than 130,000 people with Covid-19 have since died.

Italy is not the first European country to make workers have either the vaccine or regular tests.

Since Monday, unvaccinated employees in the private and public sectors in Greece have had to be tested at their own expense once or twice a week, depending on their profession.

In France, thousands of health workers have been suspended without pay for failing to get vaccinated against Covid-19 ahead of a deadline this week.