Rome, Oct 27 (efe-epa).- Clashes between police and demonstrators broke out on Monday night in several Italian cities, including Milan and Turin, during protests against restrictions being imposed to curb a second wave of coronavirus infection in the country.
A new curfew took effect on Monday, which decrees that all bars and restaurants as well as other establishments must close by 6pm.
The riots ended with 28 people being arrested in Milan, where groups of demonstrators threw stones, firecrackers and flares at police and at the regional Lombardy government headquarters.
Similar scenes were seen in Turin, where hooded men confronted the police and destroyed some storefront windows, with some reports of looting. The altercations ended with 10 people arrested, according to local media.
The business owners in several Italian cities who peacefully demonstrated against the closures have distanced themselves from the violent clashes.
On Tuesday, demonstrations are expected to continue in cities such as Naples and Rome, led by owners of businesses in sectors that have been affected by the closures.
Police are investigating reports that neo-fascist groups have infiltrated some of the demonstrations, like the ones seen in Rome at the weekend.
The Ministry of the Interior has expressed its concern about the ongoing tensions over the new restrictions, but said that the protests across the country had nothing to do with the sectors that are hurting most because of the crisis, “but with groups that had the specific goal of provoking riots: ultras, right-wing extremists.”
The government decree to curb the spiralling infection rates – Italy is reporting more than 20,000 new daily Covid-19 cases, states that restaurants, bars, pubs, ice cream parlors and cake shops will only be permitted to open from 5am to 6pm.
It also decreed the closure of gyms, swimming pools and spas, as well as cultural and social centers, recreation and bingo halls, theaters, cinemas and concert venues.
The rising contagion across the country is already threatening to overburden intensive care units, 15 percent of which are occupied by Covid-19 patients.
Currently, there are 1,284 patients in Italian ICUs being treated for Covid-19. Admissions are growing by an average of 90 per day, leading to fears that despite increasing the number of available places, ICU capacities will soon collapse again, like they did in the first wave in March. EFE-EPA