Torch-lit protests were held in 12 Italian cities against the mandatory anti-Covid green pass which is due to come into effect on 6 August in Italy for cultural and sports venues. The pass will be needed to dine at tables in cafes and restaurants indoors.
The turnout was less than what organizers had been hoping for.
The rallies were organized by the Committee Free Choice.
Protesters, few of whom were wearing protective masks, waved banners which read: “Green Pass dictatorial measure" and "We are for yes to freedom”.
The event in Rome was held in the central Piazza del Popolo, the scene of other such demonstrations in recent days against the government’s decision on the green pass.
Hundreds of people, including a number of parliamentarians, stood under a large banner which read: “United for freedom of choice, against all discriminations”.
The well-known art critic and politician, Vittorio Sgarbi, was among them.
“I am not getting vaccinated because I am scared. We have no certainties that the vaccine has been tested. I do not want the vaccine, its my decision”, he said.
Many of those who turned out in the square holding torches shouted out: “Freedom” and: “Hands off our children”.
The green light has been given to vaccinate minors between 12 and 17 years of age.
But Italy is still to decide on vaccinations for younger children, those under 12-year-old, and on whether all teachers and health personnel must get vaccinated in order to be able to continue to work.
A decision is also pending on whether a green pass will become mandatory also on public transport including trains and buses. The government is expected to announce what new measures will be enforced.
In favour of vaccination
Meanwhile, many authoritative voices have been sounded in favour of vaccinations.
The Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, said on Wednesday: "The pandemic is not behind us and getting vaccinated is a moral and civic duty.”
He added that the virus has mutated and is becoming more contagious and the longer it circulates, the more frequent and dangerous its mutations may become.
Mattarella said: “The vaccine does not make us invulnerable, but it reduces, in a major way, the possibility of contracting the virus, its circulation and its dangerousness.”
Stefano Patuanelli, a high-profile member of the Five Star Movement, wrote on his Facebook page that the participation of politicians to the protests is a devastating signal.
“We do not realise how we are still risking today the resurgence of the pandemic and the government’s efforts to introduce measures that will allow productive activities to remain open."
The Italian health ministry reported more than 5,600 new cases on Wednesday, up 1,000 from the day before. The positivity rate was 2.3%, compared to 1.9% on Tuesday.
The Italian government announced that the country will be getting an extra one million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, starting from the second week of August.
It added that this will make it possible for the Italy's COVID-19 emergency commissioner to complete the vaccination campaign by 30 September.