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Thousands of protesters demonstrated in central Rome on Saturday that includes members of far-right groups against the extension of the COVID-19 health pass system to all workplaces. Italian police used water cannons and tear gas to push back hundreds of protesters.
Italian authorities recently announced three weeks ago that from October 15, all persons working in the public and private sectors need to hold a COVID-19 Green Pass. Those who refuse to take the vaccine or present negative test results will be suspended and risk not getting paid after the fifth day.
One of the protesters told AFP that they were suspended from work two months ago. The couples are nurses with immunity and allergy problems. They were exempt from the vaccination, but they have been suspended anyway without compensation.
The health pass is already set up for all medical workers. It is a digital or paper certificate that the holder has received one vaccine dose, tested negative, or recovered from the virus to ease travel among European states.
Opponents of the COVID-19 Green Pass say it violates their freedom as a means of forcing them to get the vaccine, and the far-right support their cause and orchestrate Saturday’s violence.
Around 10,000 protesters took to the streets days before Italy became the first country in Europe to make Green Pass to all workers to stamp out coronavirus infections.
Scuffles with police ensued as demonstrators aimed at the COVID-19 health pass which has been a requirement since August to enter restaurants, sporting events, and museums.
One group of protesters break through the line to reach Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office, while a second group tries to smash their way to Italy’s main CGIL trade union headquarters. CGIL condemned the attack on offices.
Retiree Maria Ballarin condemned the act as criminal and cowardly blackmail by the Italian state. She said it absolves itself of any responsibility for significant consequences for not making the vaccinations compulsory.
Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Sheena Robertson
Al Jazeera: Clashes break out in Rome amid anger over COVID ‘green pass’
Reuters: Anti-vax protesters in Rome target Draghi’s office, union’s headquarters
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Sean MacEntee’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Simone Ramella’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License