Italy imposed a sweeping vaccine mandate on Friday that requires all private and public workers to carry government-issued COVID-19 health passes or face unpaid leave.  

If workers cannot provide proof of vaccination, they must show either a negative rapid swab test or proof of recent recovery from COVID-19 via their passes. This will be a requirement before workers can return to offices, schools, hospitals or other workplaces, The New York Times noted. 

The health pass, known as Green Pass, will be available for download as a cellphone app and will be verified by employers. Those who fail to comply with the new regulation could face up to $1,760 in fines. 

According to Reuters, some towns’ pharmacies opened earlier than usual for people to get their swabs. 

Italy’s new COVID mandate is one of the strictest in the Western world but it seems to be working. The New York Times noted that more than 500,000 previously reluctant Italians have gotten their vaccine since the government announced the plan last month. 

As of Thursday, 77.3% of Italy’s population has received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while 70.6% are fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data. 

However, there were a few large protests on Friday against the government’s Green Pass, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

Some 15% of private and 8% of public sector workers have no Green Pass, according to Reuters’ estimates of an internal government document.