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What do people in Italy really think of the new coronavirus restrictions?

After protests in Italy in recent days, including some which turned violent, police say organised crime is behind the unrest while polls find most people think current coronavirus measures are adequate or not strict enough.

What do people in Italy really think of the new coronavirus restrictions?
Business owners demonstrate outside Milan city hall on October 27th, against measures taken by the government aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19. Photo: Miguel Medina

There have been widespread reports of public anger in Italy after the government announced tightened measures on Sunday, including a 6pm closure for bars and restaurants, and evening curfews in some regions.

There were violent street protests over the past four days in Italian cities from Milan and Turin to Naples and Catania, with public discontent reportedly rising due to the new restrictions.
 
 
However, opinion polls found that the majority of people in Italy do not view the current rules as too strict.
 
Most say the restrictions are either adequate or don't go far enough, a poll by Italian firm SWG and TV news channel LA7 found on Tuesday.
 
One in four Italians thought the rules were too strict.
 
The poll found 28 percent think the measures were adequate considering the current situation.
 
 
However 36 percent were in favour of even tougher rules, saying the latest restrictions are insufficient to contain the spread.
 
The only measure that seems especially unpopular is the post-6pm closure of bars and restaurants: almost half (48%) said this rule was excessive, while 35% consider it adequate, and 17% insufficient.
 
Some regions including Campania have stricter local measures in force.
 
 
Photo: AFP
 
Business owners have held peaceful demonstrations in recent days to voice their concerns about the financial impact of the latest measures. However, authorities said these demonstrators were not responsible for the vandalism and clashes with riot police reported over the weekend.
 
Turin’s police chief Giuseppe De Matteis told AFP the protests “cannot be attributed to social discontent but… to orchestration by individuals dedicated to crime”.
 
Police in Naples identified known members of four Camorra mafia families thought to have planned and directed demonstrations in Naples that descended into violence on Friday.
 
Meanwhile in Rome on Saturday around 200 masked militants belonging to neo-fascist group Forza Nuova hurled objects at police and set bins alight in a series of protests, local police said.
 
Italian police officers clash with far right Forza Nuova party activists in Rome on Saturday. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
 
“The violence was of a level of intensity that is not the behaviour of restaurant owners nor business nor workers,” Italy’s chief anti-mafia prosecutor Federico Cafiero De Raho told local newspaper Il Mattino.
 
“What happened represents a real, tangible attack on the state,” he said, adding that the protests had been planned for at least a week and coordinated on social media.
 
Italian security chiefs are working closely with regional authorities amid concerns that crime groups could instigate further violence in the coming days, Italian news agency Ansa reports.

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COVID-19

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”

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