Protests in Italy as coronavirus lockdown spreads

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Rome: Protesters in Italy smashed windows, looted shops and hurled petrol bombs at police in anger at the country's new anti-COVID regulations, as several European countries considered toughening restrictions further.

Anger and frustration with the Italian government's latest package of measures, including the compulsory closing of bars and restaurants at 6pm, spilt over into violence on the streets of Milan and Turin late on Monday. In Turin, protesters set wheelie bins on fire and looted luxury outlets.

People light flares as they protest against the government restriction measures to curb the spread of in Rome.Credit:AP

In Milan, trams were vandalised and police fired tear gas as demonstrators gathered outside the offices of the regional government of Lombardy.

The clashes in the north of the country followed similar unrest in Naples and Rome at the weekend.

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.

Italians largely accepted the country's national lockdown between March and May, with most people supporting the government and children making posters with pictures of rainbows and the message, "It's all going to be OK".

A cameraman films fire after clashes broke out during a protest against the government restriction measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Turin, Italy.Credit:AP

But that consensus is showing alarming signs of fraying after the government toughened its anti-virus restrictions, including the closure of gyms, swimming pools, theatres and cinemas.

The measures – the strictest since the end of the national lockdown in May – will be in place for at least a month.

Many Italians are now worried about their livelihoods, having sustained financial losses during the national lockdown in the spring.

Restaurant and bar owners held a rally in Milan, holding up placards which read: "If we go under, you go under too."

While businesses called for fewer restrictions, some scientists said more were needed. Guiso Bertolini, a senior health official in the northern region of Lombardy, said the situation for A&E departments was "dramatic". The only option was to "close everything, a lockdown at a national level".

Telegraph, London

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