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COVID-19: Italy makes vaccine passport compulsory – workers can be fined and suspended without pay | World News

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Italy is to become the first European country to make a vaccine passport system compulsory for all workers.

Proof of vaccination, a negative test or recent recovery from infection must be provided or staff will be suspended without pay and face a fine.

However, they cannot be sacked.

The pass is unpopular among some Italians
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The pass is unpopular among some Italians

The law set to apply to both public and private employees from 15 October after the Italian government approved the measures on Thursday.

“Nothing like this has been done in Europe… we are putting ourselves in the forefront internationally,” said public administration minister Renato Brunetta.

It’s hoped the move will lead to more people getting vaccinated and the minister said the government expected an “enormous” jump in people getting jabbed.

Some European Union countries have made it mandatory for health workers to get vaccinated, but none have made its so-called Green Pass a requirement for all employees.

It was originally intended to ease European travel, but Italy was one of a few countries that made it a requirement for entering venues such as indoor dining, gyms and museums.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi faced resistance from right-wing leader Matteo Salvini on extending the reach of the country’s COVID pass.

However, Mr Salvini’s party is split on the issue and the cabinet unanimously approved the change.

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COVID-19: Booster jabs explained

The main employers’ federations have also backed the move in the hope it will prevent any more lockdowns.

Unions said tests should be free for workers who don’t want to be vaccinated, but the government said they would be capped at 15 euros.

Italy’s COVID-19 death toll is the highest in Europe after the UK, with more than 130,000 deaths, and it was the first country on the continent to go into lockdown.

About 74% of people have had one vaccine dose and 68% are fully vaccinated.

In the UK, the government rowed back on plans to bring in a vaccine certificate system for access to large and crowded venues such as nightclubs, but has kept the option on the table as part of its “Plan B” for winter.

Care home workers will also need to be fully vaccinated by 11 November in order to be employed, while Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said the requirement is “highly likely” to be extended to all frontline NHS staff.

On Thursday, the French government said about 3,000 workers in hospitals, care homes and health centres have been suspended for failing to comply with mandatory COVID vaccination.

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Brexit: Latest Northern Ireland Protocol talks ‘constructive’, says UK – as EU negotiators head for London | Politics News

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UK officials have described the latest talks with the EU over the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol as “constructive”, as a Brussels delegation prepares to travel to London on Tuesday.

Measures recently proposed by the EU would cut checks on retail agri-food products arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain by 80%.

A 50% reduction in customs paperwork is also on the cards.

It is understood, however, that the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in resolving disputes between the UK and the EU remains a key sticking point.

A UK government source said the arrangement “must end”, while the European Commission has insisted it will not budge on the issue.

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EU’s Sefcovic pushed on UK’s red lines around ECJ

The UK source said: “The talks this week were constructive and we’ve heard some things from the EU that we can work with – but the reality is that we are still far apart on the big issues, especially governance.

“There’s been plenty of speculation about governance this week but our position remains unchanged: the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in resolving disputes between the UK and EU must end.”

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The source added that “real progress” must happen “soon” to avoid a “process of endless negotiation”.

At the end of the week, once several days of negotiations have been completed, Brexit minister Lord Frost and EU Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic are due to meet in Westminster.

The protocol is designed to avoid the introduction of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, following Brexit.

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Newcastle United takeover: Crystal Palace fans’ banner protesting Saudi-led consortium’s Tyneside takeover investigated by police | UK News

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A banner unfurled by Crystal Palace fans ahead of Saturday’s draw with Newcastle, protesting the recent Saudi-led takeover of the Tyneside club is being investigated by police.

The graphic sign, held up at Selhurst Park, showed a man wearing Arab-style clothing wielding a bloodied sword about to behead a magpie, as faceless supporters in the background sing: “We’ve got our club back.”

Crystal Palace fans with a banner about Newcastle United's takeover before the match
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The Premier League has been accused of ‘total hypocrisy’ over the deal

It listed offences the regime is accused of by human rights groups – terrorism, beheading, civil rights abuses, murder, censorship and persecution – which were all ticked off on a clipboard under the heading “Premier League Owners Test”.

The top-flight league’s chief executive Richard Masters is also depicted giving a thumbs-up to a bag of cash, standing in a pool of blood.

It comes after the controversial go-ahead was given for a consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s state sovereign wealth fund – known as the Public Investment Fund or PIF – to take control of Newcastle United in a £300 m deal, earlier this month.

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This was despite the closeness of the fund to the Saudi state, which has faced criticism over its human rights record.

PIF is chaired by Saudi’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was linked to the gruesome 2018 murder of exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi, although he has denied any involvement.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
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Saudi’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman chairs the investment fund

A post on the official Croydon Metropolitan Police Twitter account said: “On Saturday 23 October police received a report of an offensive banner displayed by Crystal Palace fans.

“Officers are assessing the information and carrying out enquiries. Any allegations of racist abuse will be taken very seriously.”

Palace supporters’ group Holmesdale Fanatics released a statement after the banner was unveiled.

It said: “The Saudi led takeover of Newcastle has rightly received widespread condemnation and anger.

“To give the thumbs up to this deal at a time when the Premier League is promoting the women’s game and inclusive initiatives such as rainbow armbands, shows the total hypocrisy at play and demonstrates the league’s soulless agenda where profits trump all.”

Proud and Palace, the club’s official LGBT+ supporters group, also posted a video on its Twitter account which highlighted the case of Suhail al Jameel, a gay man reportedly imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.

A spokeswoman for the group said: “We don’t believe these owners have a place in the Premier League and we want to keep raising awareness.”

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Taiwan: Earthquake of magnitude 6.2 strikes island | World News

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An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.2 has struck Taiwan, according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC).

It had a depth of 25 miles (40km), the EMSC added.

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