Demonstrators prepared to gather in Milan and Rome on Saturday night to protest the coronavirus in Italy for the 18th weekend of such rallies in a row. The organizers considered a strong display necessary to prove that they were a force to be reckoned with.
Police officers were in force to protect stores and prevent violence. Shopkeepers complain that protests are undermining business, especially with the rise in Christmas shopping.
After the initial large rally in Rome in October, which was overrun by violent neo-fascists, and a surge in activity in Trieste, a northeastern port city, demonstrations have dwindled. Having survived one of the worst outbreaks in the world at the start of the pandemic, most of the Italian population has been vaccinated. And although the country has seen a partly European increase in the number of cases, the increase in the number of cases is relatively small.
Roberto Burioni, a leading virologist at the University of San Raffaele in Milan, credits Italy’s success in containing COVID due in part to its aggressive vaccination campaign (over 73 percent of the population is fully vaccinated) and in part due to its early intervention in the healthcare system. … The requirement for this certification, known as the Green Pass, allowed Italy to avoid more draconian measures, he said, such as the nationwide isolation imposed in Austria from next week.
Mr Burioni also said the stringent Green Pass measures required to enter bars and clubs may have prompted Italy’s youths to get vaccinated.
“What’s surprising is the vaccination rate among people between the ages of 19 and 29,” he said, estimating the rate at nearly 84 percent. “It’s very high.”
As Italian officials continued to urge people to get vaccinated against the virus, the government on Friday announced success in delivering third doses of the vaccine to people, with 160,000 doses given in 24 hours. But an estimated 6.7 million Italians over the age of 12 remain unvaccinated in a country of just over 60 million.
When the Green Pass was introduced last month, it was the toughest measure in Europe, requiring the entire Italian workforce get vaccinated, get cured of the virus, or get tested frequently to earn a salary.
The government said it had no plans to tighten the pass. But some high-level ministers and many politicians in the country’s northern regions, which border Austria and other countries where the number of cases is growing, are calling for the swab to be dropped, essentially demanding vaccinations.