Thousands of angry Italians took to the streets of Turin, Milan, Naples, Palermo, and Rome on Monday night to protest the early closing of bars and restaurants and the shuttering of gyms and theaters as the country slips further into chaos as it tries to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
In Cremona, restaurant owners banged pots and pans in front of the local police station, leaving them arranged like a graveyard to protest what they say is the death of their businesses after the government ordered all bars and restaurants closed at 6 p.m. until Nov. 24. In Pesaro, police raided a popular restaurant that defied the 6 p.m. curfew and served 90 clients. The owner streamed the raid on social media as he told police they could go ahead and arrest him, but he had promised the patrons a full meal, including dessert.
In Catania on the island of Sicily, protesters threw paper bombs at the local police station and in Viareggio, demonstrators blocked traffic and threw rocks at police who tried to move them. Stores were gutted in central Turin and more than a dozen people were arrested across the country as police used tear gas against the mostly maskless masses.
The anger was sparked by a new government order that came into effect at midnight Sunday instituting restrictive measures meant to stave off another draconian lockdown—though almost no one believes that it will work.
Anger is also bubbling up against the current government by opposition political parties and ministers who question why entities like museums and elementary schools are allowed to stay open but theaters and gyms are not. Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, whose party is part of the ruling coalition, demanded that the current Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte “reopen everything,” demanding the scientific proof that closing restaurants at 6 p.m. while leaving museums and other entities open would stop the spread.
The leader of the Democratic Party, Nicola Zingaretti, called for cohesion among the ruling coalition, reminding Renzi and others that infighting is counterproductive. “People’s lives are at stake,” he said Monday night. “Italians expect seriousness and authority from those with government responsibilities. The enemy is the virus, not the rules.”