Italy protesters, police clash over virus

Source: AFP Published: 2020/10/25 17:08:40

New waves in Europe witness public pushback amid fresh restrictions

Italian police officers clash with far-right activists during a protest against the government restriction measures to curb COVID-19 in Rome, Italy on Saturday. Photo: AFP

Italian demonstrators staged Europe's latest public rally against new anti-coronavirus restrictions early Sunday, as more countries tightened social distancing rules over the weekend to fight surges in infections.

The World Health Organization has warned of an "exponential" rise in infections threatening health systems' ability to cope with a second wave of the pandemic, testing many nations that appeared to have the virus under control earlier in 2020.

Governments are now struggling to balance new restrictions against the need to revive economies already battered by earlier draconian lockdowns.

But populations weary of social isolation and economic hardship have bristled at new restrictions.

Around 200 masked far-right militants clashed with Italian riot police during a demonstration against a new curfew in Rome shortly after midnight on Sunday, throwing flares and firecrackers at officers.

Seven protesters were arrested during the rally, which came the night after hundreds of people set rubbish bins on fire and threw projectiles at police further south in Naples in another anti-curfew protest. 

The latest protests cap a week of similar demonstrations against government restrictions in several parts of Europe, including Spain, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

The continent has seen a spike in new infections and taken a raft of new containment measures, mostly trying to avoid new nationwide lockdowns - from night-time curfews to more restrictions on social gatherings.

After Germany recorded its 10,000th coronavirus death on Saturday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "The order of the day is to reduce contacts, [and] to meet as few people as possible."

Polish President Andrzej Duda said Saturday he had become the latest public figure to test positive for coronavirus as the EU country faces record infection rates.

Spain became the first European country earlier this week to officially record a million coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.



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