Protesters in cities across Italy clash with police over anti-Covid measures

Nick Squires
·2-min read
Some protesters went on the rampage in Turin - Getty
Some protesters went on the rampage in Turin - Getty

Protesters threw petrol bombs and looted shops last night as demonstrations against the Italian government’s tough new anti-virus measures broke out in cities across the country.

Thousands of people protested against the new measures, from Turin in the north to Sicily in the south. 

In Turin, protesters set wheelie bins on fire and looted a Gucci shop in the centre of the city. Around a dozen people were injured in clashes, including police officers.

There were also protests in Rome, Naples and Trieste. In Milan, trams were vandalised and 28 people were arrested after demonstrators gathered outside the offices of the regional government of Lombardy.

While most protesters were law-abiding, a minority engaged in clashes with riot police, throwing stones, firecrackers and petrol bombs.

Police blamed much of the violence on extremists from the far-Right and far-Left, as well as radical 'ultra' football fans.

Clashes between protesters and police outside Milan's main railway station - Shutterstock
Clashes between protesters and police outside Milan's main railway station - Shutterstock

The government announced a package of anti-virus restrictions on Sunday, including the compulsory closure of bars and restaurants at 6pm, devastating the hospitality industry. The decree also ordered gyms, swimming pools, theatres and cinemas to close and many people are fearful for their livelihoods, having already taken a big financial hit during the national lockdown in the spring. The measures will be in place for at least a month.

“There is a great deal of worry among people,” said Annamaria Furlan, the secretary-general of CISL, one of Italy’s largest unions.

“But the decisions the government has taken were, unfortunately, necessary given the number of infections, the number of people in hospital and the deaths, which are rising at a frightening rate.”

In the city of Cremona, restaurant owners banged pots and pans outside government offices, while in Catania in Sicily they threw firecrackers at a police station.

Police officers stand guard outside a Gucci boutique store as protesters gather during an anti government demonstration in Turin - Getty
Police officers stand guard outside a Gucci boutique store as protesters gather during an anti government demonstration in Turin - Getty

Restaurant and bar owners held a rally in Milan, holding up placards which read “If we go under, you go under too.” They called for more financial aid from the state to make up for their loss of income.

In Naples, protesters called for the resignation of Vincenzo De Luca, the governor of the surrounding region of Campania, who has advocated a tough lockdown to try to stem the spread of the virus.

In Palermo, Sicily, there was a peaceful demonstration by hospitality workers, who said the 6pm closure of bars, pubs and restaurants represented “a mortal blow” to the sector.

Italy reported another 17,000 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, down from 21,000 on Sunday. There were 141 new deaths, up from 128 Sunday.

The government is “strongly advising” Italians not to travel around the country unless they really have to, such as for work or medical emergencies.