Italy seeks to recruit 60,000 volunteers to police post-lockdown crowds

Volunteers proposal sparks division in Italy's coalition government.

Italy’s coalition partners are divided over a proposal to recruit 60,000 volunteers to enforce social distancing measures among crowds in the country's post-lockdown phase in the coronavirus emergency.

The proposal, raised by regional affairs minister Francesco Boccia, a member of the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD), comes after footage of crowds in Italian cities raised concerns of a possible surge in new covid-19 infections.

The PD's coalition partners, populist Movimento 5 Stelle and centrist Italia Viva, are strongly against the proposal, while the interior ministry, which is responsible for law and order, says it wasn't consulted in advance, reports Reuters.

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Boccia's proposal would involve the creation of a 60,000-strong force of volunteer "civic assistants", drawn from Italy's retired and unemployed, to ensure that people maintain social distancing, wear masks and avoid gathering in groups.

The debate comes as Milan mayor Beppe Sala bans the take-away sale of alcohol after 19.00, following increasing cases of "movida" or nightlife crowds, with effect from 26 May.

Photo La Repubblica