Protests have broken out across Italy against new restrictions designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, with violence reported in Turin and Milan.
Some protesters in Turin reportedly broke away from a peaceful demonstration, smashing shop windows, ransacking luxury shops, and clashing with police, who fired tear gas in return.
Several hundred protesters also assembled at the regional government’s headquarters in Milan, the capital of the Lombardy region, which was the epicentre of the global pandemic in March.
Some protestors threw stones, petrol bombs and fireworks as they chanted “Freedom, freedom!” According to reports, 28 people are being detained in Milan whiles three police officers were injured amid the clashes in the two cities.
The people took to the streets after Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte imposed a new round of rules aimed at stemming the spread of coronavirus. He announced the early closure of restaurants and pubs at 6pm (5:00 GMT) and shut down theatres, gyms and cinemas.
Most high schools were ordered to hold online classes and a number of regions imposed night curfews.
The partial restrictions is as a result of the government’s effort to avoid a nationwide lockdown such as the measures enforced in March. At least 37,479 people have died with coronavirus in Italy since the start of the pandemic.
While Italians went through one of the world’s strictest lockdowns in the first wave with a sense of togetherness and compliance, the new measures have provoked an angry response.
Business owners, still recovering from the first closure, are frustrated amid fears that closing shops again would send them into bankruptcy.
Taxi drivers, restaurant owners, bar owners, and people who work in cultural industries protested peacefully in about several cities from north to south, including Viareggio, Trieste, Rome, Naples, Salerno, Palermo, Siracusa and Catania.
Mr Conte has met protesters in Rome to assure them that funds were on the way for business owners in a bid to defuse the anger.
The government has promised financial aid to workers and businesses affected by mandatory closures, and relief measures were expected to be approved in a cabinet meeting later on 27th October.
“The primary objective is to regain control of the epidemiological curve to avoid that its steady rise can compromise the efficacy of our health sector, as well as the resilience of the social and economic system as a whole,” Conte said in an open letter.
Earlier, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing that he understood the “pandemic fatigue” that some people were feeling but stressed the need to continue measures to contain a virus for which there remains no cure or vaccine.
“Working from home, children being schooled remotely, not being able to celebrate milestones with friends and family or not being there to mourn loved ones – it’s tough and the fatigue is real. But we cannot give up. We must not give up,” he urged.
Italy is witnessing a resurgence of coronavirus infections, reporting its highest number since the beginning of the pandemic with more than 21,200 cases on 25th October, double the recorded cases in the previous week. As of Tuesday, 27th October, 14,281 people had been hospitalized.
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