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IN PICTURES: Demonstrators and far right clash with police in Rome after green pass protest

Thousands of people gathered in Rome's Piazza Del Popolo on Saturday shouting "Draghi, Draghi, vaffanculo [f**k you]", ahead of the extension of the Covid-19 health pass system to all workplaces on Friday.

Demonstrators on the streets of Rome on Saturday night protesting the expansion of Italy's Covid-19 green pass system.
Demonstrators on the streets of Rome on October 9th, 2021 protesting the expansion of Italy's Covid-19 green pass system. Photo: Tiziana FABI / AFP

An estimated ten thousand people including members of far-right groups demonstrated in central Rome on Saturday against the extension of the Covid-19 health pass system to all workplaces.

There were scuffles with police as the demonstrators took aim at the health pass, which has been a requirement to enter museums, sporting events and restaurants since August.

READ ALSO: Anti-vax protesters in Rome target PM’s office and trade union headquarters

A protester rudely gesticulates at a policeman during protests against Italy's 'green pass'.

A protester gesticulates at a policeman during protests against Italy’s green pass. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

Although the march was authorised, several hundred people broke off from the main column and tried to march on parliament.

Police used water cannon and tear gas to stop them, arresting several people during clashes, the AGI news agency reported.

Members of what appeared to be the far-right group Forza Nuova attacked and occupied the headquarters of CGIL, the Italian General Confederation of Labour.

Italian riot police surround protesters in a bid to contain demonstrations which saw one group try to storm the Prime Minister's office.

Italian riot police surround protesters in a bid to contain demonstrations which saw one group try to storm the Prime Minister’s office. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

There were other protests in the northern city of Milan and in Cesena, central Italy.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office released statement condemning “the violence that took place today in various Italian cities” and said the government “continues its commitment to complete the vaccination campaign against Covid-19”.

READ ALSO: Italy’s vaccination campaign slows as ‘green pass effect’ fails to materialise

A baby doll impaled with syringes is held up during a protest against the 'green pass' in Rome

A baby doll impaled with syringes is held up during a protest against the ‘green pass’ in Rome Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

Three weeks ago the government announced that the green pass scheme would be extended to all places of work from October 15 and any employees refusing to comply faced suspension without pay.

READ ALSO: How Italy will enforce the new ‘green pass’ rules in all workplaces

The green pass system is already in place for all medical workers and those working in schools. It requires people to provide a certificate of vaccination, proof of recovery from Covid-19 or a recent negative test result.

Protesters shout abuse during clashes with police in Rome.

Protesters shout abuse during clashes with police. A number of far right groups were present. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

A protester protects herself from tear gas smoke during clashes in the street. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

Nearly 80 percent of the over-12s in Italy have been fully vaccinated, according to government statistics.

The first European country to feel the full force of the pandemic, Italy has so suffered more than 130,000 deaths.

Riot police vehicles front of Palazzo Chigi, which houses the prime minister’s office, as protesters tried to reach the building. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP.

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COVID-19 RULES

‘Not offensive’: Italian minister defends Covid testing rule for China arrivals

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani defended the policy of testing all arrivals from China for Covid-19 after Beijing said the policy "lacks scientific basis".

'Not offensive': Italian minister defends Covid testing rule for China arrivals

“It seems perfectly normal to me,” Tajani told Italian state broadcaster Rai on Tuesday. “Having a test is a way to protect people’s health. There is nothing offensive about it.”

“Lots of Chinese and Italians coming from China do it (anyway),” he claimed.

READ ALSO: Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

Italy was the first European country to make testing on arrival a requirement for passengers arriving on flights from China last week, after a surge in the infection rate there.

Italian Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said on Wednesday that the screening requirement was “essential to ensure the surveillance and identification of any variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population”.

READ ALSO: Italy pushes for EU-wide China Covid measures as tests show no new variants

France and Spain have since introduced similar rules (as well as non-EU countries including the UK and USA) and there is now a meeting scheduled for Wednesday of the EU Integrated Policy Response Capability to discuss coordinating measures.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said the screening policy would be “ineffective” if not done on a European level, as only people arriving on direct flights from China were being tested in Italy, not those with stopovers.

But the Chinese government on Tuesday hit out at countries introducing a policy of mandatory testing for people arriving from China.

“Some countries have taken entry restrictions targeting only Chinese travellers,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning was quoted as saying at a briefing by AFP.

“This lacks scientific basis and some practices are unacceptable”.

She said Beijing may “take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity”.

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