Protests in Italy over new virus crackdown turn violent

26 October 2020, 22:34

Virus Italy Outbreak Protest
Virus Italy Outbreak Protest. Picture: PA

The protests began shortly after the national government’s order took effect.

Protesters turned out by the hundreds in Turin, Milan and other Italian cities to vent their anger, sometimes violently, at the latest pandemic restrictions.

In the northern city of Turin, some demonstrators broke off from a peaceful protest, smashing store windows on a shopping street, setting off smoke bombs and hurling bottles at police in a main city square where the Piedmont regional government is headquartered, RAI state TV said.

A photographer was injured by a hurled bottle, RAI said. Police fired tear gas to clear the protesters in Piazza del Castello.

Virus Italy Outbreak Protest
Police confront demonstrators as clashes broke out during a protest against the government restriction measures (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP)

In the same square, hours earlier, some 300 taxis peacefully lined up in neat rows to draw attention to their economic losses from the implosion of tourism and disappearance of workers from the city centre as they do their jobs remotely during the pandemic.

Triggering the violence in Turin were a group of “ultras”, as violent football fans are known, the LaPresse news agency said. It said five of the protesters were detained by authorities.

In Italy’s business capital, Milan, police used tear gas to scatter protesters, and an Associated Press journalist saw at least two people detained.

The protests began shortly after the national government’s order took effect requiring bars, cafes and restaurants to close their doors at 6pm for the next 30 days as Italy tries to rein the resurgence of coronavirus infections in recent weeks.

Since most Italians do not dine out before 7:30pm at the earliest, the decree effectively wiped out most of the restaurants’ already reduced revenue in the pandemic, although takeout and delivery can continue until midnight.

Virus Italy Outbreak Protest
A police officer confronts a man during a protest (Luca Bruno/AP)

The crackdown was announced on Sunday, a day after Italy registered more than a half million confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic’s outbreak.

Last week, a peaceful march by shopkeepers and other business owners in Naples, upset about a regional curfew that orders citizens off the streets at 11pm, turned violent near the Campania region’s headquarters.

Investigators were quoted in Italian media as saying the violence, in which police officers were injured, bore the hand of the Camorra, the local organised crime group.

A day later, an extreme right political group staged a violent demonstration in central Rome.

By Press Association