Local officials and some protesters have expressed their anger at the Italian government over restrictions that came into effect Friday in four hotspot regions – Lombardy, Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta and Calabria.
In northern Italy, a few hundred people gathered on Thursday evening in the city of Bergamo -- one of cities worst hit by the first wave of the pandemic -- to protest against the new measures ordering people to stay home except for essential necessities, health or work.
Protesters, who included business owners and professions but also members of far-right groups and the opposition League party, demonstrated at city hall then gathered outside the mayor’s residence where they “chanted slogans with flags, banners and smoke bombs,” the city’s mayor Giorgio Gori said on Facebook.
Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza defended the government’s decision to declare the four regions as “red zones.” He also said decisions around new restrictions “cannot be the field of a political battle,” adding that “our only enemy is the virus.”
Maximum precaution is a mandatory way to stem the spread of this pandemic,” Speranza told parliament Friday, adding that regional representatives were involved in the decision to impose new lockdowns.
The leaders of the northern regions of Lombardy and Piedmont claimed the government’s decision to impose new restrictions on their areas was based on data that was out of date.
The head of the Piedmont region, Alberto Cirio, demanded “clarity from the government” for the region’s citizens and for “the many businesses that will remain closed."
Elsewhere in northern Italy, Milan mayor Beppe Sala urged residents “to stay at home as much as possible in these difficult days” following small anti-lockdown protests there.
Small protests also erupted in the southern “red zone” of Calabria, with the regional president Nino Spirli saying online that he plans to appeal the government’s decision.
“This region does not deserve an isolation which risks being fatal to it,” Spirli said.
The mayor of the Calabrian village of Carolei, Francesco Iannucci, told state broadcaster RAI that he would not enforce the new lockdown measures, simply by “not doing any control” in bars and restaurants.
On Thursday, Italy hit new records for the number of new Covid-19 infections and deaths in a single day, according to data from the country’s Health Ministry.
Italy reported 35,505 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 824,879 since the start of the pandemic. The country also reported 445 more deaths, taking the death toll to 40,192.