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Italy’s workplace green pass protests come to an end as police disperse crowds

Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters in Italy’s northeastern port of Trieste on Monday following a three-day demonstration by dock workers against the country's mandatory workplace Covid health pass.

Dockers and port workers gather at the Port of Trieste’s Gate 4 on October 15, 2021 to protest new coronavirus restrictions for workers
Dockers and port workers gather at the Port of Trieste’s Gate 4 on October 15, 2021 to protest new coronavirus restrictions for workers. STRINGER / ANSA / AFP

A new law that came into effect on October 15th requires all workers across Italy to show a Covid-19 health certificate or ‘green pass’ to access any workplace.

The green pass shows the holder is vaccinated against, recovered from, or has recently tested negative for the coronavirus. While workers can opt to get tested instead of receiving the vaccine, those who wish to remain unvaccinated must now pay for a test every two to three days.

READ ALSO: How Italy is enforcing the new workplace green pass rules from Friday

Italy’s government hopes the measures, which are the strictest anti-Covid restrictions yet enacted by a Western democracy, will boost vaccination coverage and keep infection rates down.

Dockers and port workers demonstrate outside the Port of Trieste’s Gate 4 on October 15, 2021 to protest new coronavirus restrictions for workers.

Dockers and port workers demonstrate outside the Port of Trieste’s Gate 4 on October 15, 2021 to protest new coronavirus restrictions for workers. STRINGER / ANSA / AFP

Protests against the rules were held across the country on Friday, with most of them remaining small and undisruptive.

In northwestern Genoa, dock workers temporarily blockaded the port’s international San Benigno gate and ferry terminal, and demonstrators elsewhere in the city blocked the access ramp to the ‘Sopraelevata’ expressway.

READ ALSO: Covid green pass: How are people in Italy reacting to the new law for workplaces?

In Florence and Turin, several hundred demonstrators gathered in the cities’ Piazza Santa Maria Novella and Piazza Castello respectively to chant and wave signs protesting the rule.

And in Bologna an estimated 2,000 protesters displaying the Italian national flag and holding placards saying “we are free” and “the green pass discriminates” marched from Piazza Maggiore to the headquarters of the Emilia-Romagna regional authorities in Viale Aldo Moro.

People gather during a protest against the green pass in Milan on October 16, 2021.

People gather during a protest against the green pass in Milan on October 16, 2021. Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP

But by far the largest crowd was seen at the port of Trieste, where an estimated 6,500 demonstrators gathered at the protest’s peak on Friday, and where crowds returned over the following days to continue blocking access to one of the port’s entrances.

The dock workers had called the strike despite having been offered free Covid tests, and their protest attracted demonstrators from out of town.

On Monday morning, dozens of police in riot gear faced off against hundreds of remaining demonstrators and port workers.

“Liberty, liberty!” shouted protesters, as others yelled, “We’re not violent, put down your shields”.

Police managed to clear the entrance after a few hours of standoff, pushing demonstrators to a nearby parking lot.

Although more than 85 percent of Italians over the age of 12 have received at least one vaccine jab, qualifying them for the pass, there remain up to three million workers estimated to be unvaccinated.

A protest in Rome on October 9th attracted 10,000 people and descended into violence after members of a neo-fascist group ransacked buildings and clashed with the police, leaving 38 officers injured.

READ ALSO: Analysis: What’s behind Italy’s anti-vax protests and neo-fascist violence?

A counter-demonstration held in the capital on Saturday calling on authorities to ban fascist-inspired groups drew an estimated 200,000 people.

Member comments

  1. I really would like to know where you get your info. What you have written about the Italian protests is totally inaccurate.

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COVID-19 RULES

Reader question: What are Italy’s Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Italy's quarantine rules have changed so many times over the past couple of years, it can be hard to keep track. Here's the latest information on when and how visitors need to self-isolate.

Reader question: What are Italy's Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Question: “One of your recent articles says you can exit quarantine by testing negative for the coronavirus. But you can also exit quarantine by obtaining a certificate of recovery from Covid-19… true?”

Unfortunately, official proof of having recovered from Covid-19 won’t get you out of the requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid while visiting Italy – though it can shorten your quarantine period.

The health ministry’s current rules state that anyone who tests positive while in Italy is required to immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days: that’s if the person in question is fully vaccinated and boosted, or has completed their primary vaccination cycle, or was certified as being recovered from Covid less than 120 days ago.

That period is extended to 10 days for those who aren’t fully vaccinated and boosted, or those who recovered from Covid or completed their primary vaccination cycle more than 120 days ago.

In either case, the infected person must have been symptomless for at least three days in order to exit quarantine (with the exception of symptoms relating to a lost sense of taste or smell, which can persist for some time after the infection is over).

READ ALSO: Travel in Italy and Covid rules this summer: what to expect

The patient must also test negative for the virus via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test on the final day of the quarantine in order to be allowed out.

Read more about getting tested while in Italy in a separate article here.

Quarantined people who keep testing positive for the virus can be kept in self-isolation for a maximum of 21 days, at which point they will be automatically released.

Italy does not currently require visitors from any country to test negative in order to enter its borders, as long as they are fully boosted or were recently vaccinated/ have recently recovered from Covid.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

Some countries (including the US), however, do require people travelling from Italy to test negative before their departure – which means visitors at the tail end of their journey could be hit with the unpleasant surprise of finding out they need to quarantine for another week in Italy instead of heading home as planned.

It’s because of this rule that a number of The Local’s readers told us they wouldn’t be coming on holiday to Italy this summer, and intend to postpone for another year.

If you are planning on visiting Italy from a country that requires you to test negative for Covid prior to re-entry, it’s a good idea to consider what you would do and where you would go in the unlikely event you unexpectedly test positive.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases. For more information about how the rules may apply to you, see the Italian Health Ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

You can keep up with the latest updates via our homepage or Italian travel news section.

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