Italy announced on Wednesday that it would mandate COVID-19 boosters for anyone ages 50 and up. 

The requirement immediately took effect and will last until June 15, according to Reuters.

“Today’s measures aim to keep our hospitals functioning well and at the same time keep open schools and business activities,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi said to the Cabinet, per the news service. 

However, ministers from the right-wing League said that the new mandate was “without scientific foundation, considering that the absolute majority of those hospitalized with COVID are well over 60,” Reuters added.

Draghi previously mandated vaccinations for teachers and health workers. All workers have been required to either show a negative COVID-19 test or be vaccinated before entering their workplaces or offices since October. People who do not comply with the policies will be suspended without pay. 

But now, people over age 50 will not have the option to show a negative test, Reuters reported.

At the start of the pandemic, Italy emerged as an epicenter for COVID-19 infections, and it has now seen more than 138,000 COVID-19 deaths, the second highest European death toll throughout the pandemic.

Now, the omicron variant has contributed to a steady rise in cases in more recent weeks. 

On Wednesday, Italy reported 189,109 new infections, the highest daily case count since the start of the pandemic, Reuters noted.

Seventy-four percent of Italians are fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.

Elsewhere in Europe, vaccine requirements will also soon take effect. Austria announced that it would mandate vaccination for everyone ages 14 and up starting next month, and Greece has said it would be required for anyone over 60 starting Jan. 16, the news service said.

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