Restaurant owners protest in Rome against Italy's covid-19 lockdown rules

Two police officers injured after Rome lockdown protest turned violent.

A demonstration by restaurant and bar owners against Italy's covid-19 lockdown restrictions saw protesters clash with police outside parliament in Rome on the afternoon of 6 April.

The protest, which also included members of the far-right group Casapound, resulted in the injury of two police officers and saw seven protesters being detained, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

Amid chants of "Work!" and "Freedom!" the demonstration in Piazza Montecitorio saw protesters demand the government to reopen businesses shut under Italy's coronavirus restrictions.

Police believe that several extremist groups "infiltrated" the demonstration with the aim of stoking an already tense situation, according to ANSA, with the clashes described as "unacceptable" by Italy's interior minister Luciana Lamorgese.

Over the last year the governments of Giuseppe Conte and Mario Draghi have allocated millions of euro in financial aid to the hard-hit restaurant sector, which is severely affected by the country's strict anti-covid rules.

Clashes in Rome on 6 April. Photo Today

Bars and restaurants remain closed at night and - under the current red and orange zone restrictions - are open only for takeaway during the day.

Protests against the anti-covid measures were also held in Milan and Naples, with street vendors blocking the north-south A1 motorway between Naples and Caserta.

Among the demonstrators in Rome was Hermes Ferrari, a 51-year-old owner of a pizzeria in the northern city of Modena, who attracted media attention due to being dressed in a similar way to the "QAnon shaman" Jake Angeli who stormed the US Capitol in January.

Boasting that he has defied the government's rules by opening to diners since 15 January, Ferrari told online newspaper ModenaToday: "We are exasperated... I hope that now someone notices us and listens to us. I had to pay loan sharks to pay employees."

Ferrari's views were echoed by many of yesterday's protesters, some of them in tears, who shouted: "We just want to work, we don't ask for anything else."

Cover photo: Bologna - La Repubblica