ROME (AP) – Italian restaurant owners and others are upset at shutting down for weeks because of the virus blockade clashed with police on Tuesday during protests outside Congress in Rome, while in the south hundreds of protesters. People blocking important highways
One of the officers was injured in the scuffle, Italy’s LaPresse news agency said. The state’s RAI television station said seven protesters were detained by police.
Many among the few hundred protesters outside the House of Representatives lowered their masks and shouted “Work!”; And “Freedom!”
Eating and drinking at restaurants, bars and cafes is currently prohibited until at least April. Only accept takeout or delivery services.
Authorities charged some protesters after they tried to breach the police cordon. Members of far-right political groups joined business owners in protests, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported.
Among the protesters was Hermes Ferrari, the owner of a restaurant in Modena, a town in northern Italy. He bragged that he had challenged officials for months to open up his establishment to diners in breach of government orders.
Despite the increased fines, “I can pay workers,” Ferrari said, keeping the business open.
Ferrari yells to a fellow restaurant owner in protest to follow his lead.
“You have to open it because nobody can tell you to turn it off,” he shouted.
Italy’s current and previous governments have allocated millions of euros to categories, particularly those that have been hit hard by epidemic restrictions.
The business owner insists that it needs to be permanently reopened. Restaurants and cafes in regions with lower incidence of patients and less affected hospital ICUs, known as the yellow zone, are sometimes allowed to sit, eat and drink before the evening.
But the growing infection stream, mostly due to the virus, has killed tens of thousands of COVID-19 deaths a day for months. That led the Italian government to temporarily remove the yellow zone from before Easter until the remainder of April.
To show solidarity with the wounded police officer Carlo Sibelia, Interior Secretary Carlo Seville said. “Violence is unacceptable”
Still, Sibilia from the 5-Star populist movement has urged the government, in addition to prioritizing the launch of the vaccine, to provide “a new compensation fund for economic activities that have been immediately closed or punished by the latest restrictions”.
Sibilia has been pressed to provide government guarantees for loans, a moratorium, a halt of evictions and compensation of lost income due to COVID-19 measures.
Hours earlier, near the southern city of Caserta, another protest blocked traffic on the A1 highway, among hundreds of protesters working in open-air markets and owners of gymnasiums and bureaus restaurants. Italy’s LaPresse News said. The gym has been closed for months.
Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese denied it was an unacceptable protest that had caused violence or inconvenience the people.
Gordon Walker, a journalist for the AP in Rome, contributed to this report.
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