Italy clamps down on Green Pass protests

New rules for demonstrations against Italy's covid Green Pass.

Italy's interior ministry has issued an order clamping down on protests by the No Green Pass movement, with effect from this weekend.

The move, first reported by newspaper Corriere della Sera, comes after weeks of disruption to residents and business owners by demonstrations in the centres of several Italian cities every Saturday evening.

Under the new measures brought in by interior minister Luciana Lamorgese, rallies will be severely restricted but not banned, with protesters will no longer permitted to enter historic centres or shopping streets.

Demonstrations will also have to stay away from "sensitive" sites such as institutional buildings and the headquarters of political parties and trade unions.

From now on protests can only take the form of sit-ins, reports Corriere della Sera, unless there are "special requirments or guarantees" agreed in advance with authorities.

The strict approach from the ministry is designed to "guarantee the rights of those who disagree while protecting the economic activities and the health of citizens".

This was the model used by Rome police during the recent G20 Leaders' Summit, which passed off without incident, in contrast to the disastrous handling of a No Green Pass protest on 8 October which resulted in the storming of the CGIL trade union base by far-right activists.

There are also provisions in the order for the possibility of obliging protesters to wear masks during their outdoor demonstrations, according to the Corriere.

The move by the ministry follows lobbying from the powerful Italian confederation of retail traders, Confcommercio, which says the weekend demonstrations have had a negative impact on business.

In an interview with Corriere, Confcommercio president Carlo Sangalli underlined that "Saturdays alone are worth more than 25 per cent of weekly turnover for the retail and restaurant sectors, so the damage caused is very clear while we still pay the consequences of the pandemic and risk a further surge."

No Italian city has seen more protests against the Green Pass than Trieste where demonstrations were spearheaded by dockers a month ago.

Since then the northern port city has emerged as the covid hotspot of Italy, amid concerns that the Friuli Venezia Giulia region could return to being a 'yellow zone' under the government's system of coronavirus restrictions.

The city's newly elected centre-right mayor Roberto Dipiazza wasted little time in banning protests in the central Piazza Unità d’Italia, stating that the unrest has "damaged the image of the city and threatens to take us backwards."

Last week Rome police expelled Stefano Puzzer, the leader of the dockers' revolt in Trieste, barring him from the capital for one year after he set up an "unauthorised" one-man protest the city centre.