On Tuesday night, a 22-year-old Italian man attacked police officers at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, leaving one with a broken hand and two others with minor injuries. The man faces charges of resisting arrest and injuring a public official.
This was the latest incident in which police in Italy have bee attacked in recent days by people refusing to follow the safety rules.
A police officer speaks to vistors about safety rules at Rome's Spanish Steps. Photo: AFP
In the early hours of Sunday morning, two police officers in another part of Rome were treated for injuries in hospital after being attacked by a group of young people who police had spoken to about wearing masks. Three people aged 20-25 were charged following the incident.
“I am very worried about the climate of intolerance towards the work of the police lately in various Italian cities,” Italian police chief Franco Gabrielli told Italian newspaper La Nazione after officers on patrol were attacked by a group of young people in the Tuscan town of Massa earlier this week.
“Law enforcement officers work every day to protect constitutional rights and for the safety of citizens. Perhaps it is time for everyone to regain respect for the institutions and for those who represent them at the forefront,” he said.
The spate of attacks came shortly after police began handing out fines for not wearing masks in public areas outdoors at night, with the first of the €400 penalties handed to a man in Rome on August 21st, who told police “covid-19 doesn't exist.”
Around ten fines for refusing to wear a mask have been handed out each day in Italy since they were made mandatory.
Under Italian rules aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus, face masks must be worn on public transport and in public indoor spaces at all times. They are also mandatory in busy or crowded outdoor areas between 6pm and 6am.
The only exceptions are for children under six or people with a disability that makes it impossible.
The rules on mask-wearing were tightened in mid-August as the number of new positive cases in Italy began to rise again.
Those rules will apply until at least September 7th, when the government will decide whether to extend them further.