Protests greet debut of Italy’s workplace COVID pass rule
ROME — Protests erupted in Italy on Friday as one of the most stringent anti-coronavirus measures in Europe went into effect, requiring all workers, from magistrates to maids, to show a health pass to get into their place of employment.
Police were out in force, some schools ended classes early and embassies issued warnings of possible violence amid concerns that the anti-vaccination demonstrations could turn violent, as they did in Rome last weekend.
But by day’s end, the protests appeared to have been largely peaceful, including one at Rome’s central Circus Maximus where some protesters gave police officers flowers in a sign they meant no harm.
“We are not here to make violence or anything like that, we are here because they are taking away our rights and we can’t even go to work anymore,” complained protester Elena Campisi.
The so-called “Green Pass” shows proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months. Italy already required them to access all sorts of indoor environments, including restaurants, museums, theaters, and long-distance trains.
But the addition of the workplace requirement has sparked heated debate and opposition in a country that was a coronavirus epicenter early in the pandemic, but has kept the latest resurgence in check through continued mask mandates and one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe.
“Today they are stepping on our Constitution,” said an anti-vaccine protester, Loris Mazzarato. “I say NO to this discrimination.”
He was among the hundreds of demonstrators in Trieste, where protests by port workers had threatened to impact commercial activities. Protesters shouted “Liberta” (Freedom) in a largely peaceful demonstration in Florence.