Anti-vax protesters in Rome target PM’s office and trade union headquarters

Anti-vaccine protesters including members of far-right groups attacked the headquarters of Italy’s national trade union organisation and attempted to reach the prime minister's office on Saturday, Italian media reports.

Protests have been a regular occurrence in Rome since the Italian green pass health certificate was launched. Photo.
Protests have been a regular occurrence in Rome since the Italian green pass health certificate was launched. Photo. Photo: Filiippo Monteforte/AFP

Some ten thousand people protested in Rome on Saturday against of the incoming expansion of the Italian Covid-19 health certificate scheme, or green pass, from October 15th.

Riot police used water cannons to disperse several hundred demonstrators who headed towards the prime minister’s office on Saturday evening, according to news agency Ansa.

Another group, reportedly led by members of the far-right organisation Forza Nuova, attacked and occupied the headquarters of CGIL, the Italian General Confederation of Labour on Saturday evening.

“Our national headquarters was attacked by Forza Nuova and the no-vax movement,” stated CGIL on Twitter.

Videos shared on social media appeared to show outnumbered riot police officers failing to stop a violent mob from entering the building.

The doors to the CGIL building were left open and alarms rang out on Saturday evening, Ansa reports, as those inside used a megaphone to accuse the trade union organisation of “failing to defend workers” from the green pass obligation.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office released a statement condemning “the violence that took place today in various Italian cities” and said the government “continues its commitment to complete the vaccination campaign against Covid-19”.

Around 10,000 people in total reportedly demonstrated in the Italian capital, Reuters reports, while thousands more demonstrated in Milan and other cities against the expansion of the green pass requirement to all workplaces from Friday.

READ ALSO: Italy’s vaccination campaign slows as ‘green pass effect’ fails to materialise

The digital or paper certificate proves the bearer has received at least one dose of the vaccine, or has recently recovered from Covid-19 or tested negative.

The expansion was announced last month in an attempt to persuade the millions of eligible people still unvaccinated in Italy to get the jab.

Under the new rules, any worker who fails to present a valid health certificate will be suspended without pay, though they cannot be sacked.

School staff have been subject to the green pass requirement since September 1st, while all healthcare workers in Italy must be vaccinated under a law passed back in April.

EXPLAINED: How Italy will enforce the new ‘green pass’ rules in all workplaces

Some 80 percent of the Italian population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated as of Saturday, and so far protests against vaccination and the health pass in the country have been smaller than those seen this weekend.

But vaccine uptake has slowed in recent weeks as it appears the extended health certificate requirement has not had the intended effect of boosting the immunisation effort.

The sluggish rate of bookings for first jabs now stands in stark contrast to that of late July, when  online boking platforms struggled to cope as at least half a million appointments were made in the 24 hours after Prime Minister Mario Draghi first announced the domestic use of the green pass system.

With the majority of the population now inoculated against the virus, those who remain unvaccinated are likely to be the most staunch holdouts, presenting a major challenge to the government’s efforts to further increase vaccine coverage.

8.3 million eligible people in Italy currently remain unvaccinated, according to health ministry figures published on Friday.

READ ALSO: Third doses and mandatory jabs: What’s next for Italy’s Covid vaccination campaign?

Draghi stated in July that vaccinations and the green pass were the only alternative to bringing back restrictions and closures should coronavirus infection rates rise again.

The Italian government has said it will consider introducing a vaccination mandate for all if more people cannot be persuaded to get the jab voluntarily

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said last month that the government would go ahead “without fear” with plans to mandate vaccinations if it were deemed necessary “in the defence of the right to health and the need to avoid new deprivations of freedom”.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Italian government begins talks on Covid ‘super green pass’

Italy is set to tighten the rules on its health certificate scheme from December as Covid-19 contagion and hospitalisation rates continue to rise.

Employees in Italy must show Covid health passes to access workplaces.
Employees in Italy must show Covid health passes to access workplaces - but are the rules about to get stricter? Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Note: This article is no longer being updated. Please find the latest news here.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will hold a meeting with regional leaders on Monday evening, beginning several days of talks on a new government decree which is expected to be announced by Friday, reports national broadcaster Rai.

As the health situation has worsened across Italy in recent weeks – particularly in the north-eastern regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto and the autonomous province of Bolzano – leaders of local governments are increasingly pushing for new measures, mainly in the form of further restrictions on the unvaccinated under a so-called “super green pass” scheme.

KEY POINTS: Italy’s new plans to contain the Covid fourth wave

Italy began rolling out its health certificate or ‘green pass’ for domestic use in August, initially making it a requirement at many leisure and cultural venues such as cinemas and indoor restaurants, before extending its use to workplaces and some forms of public transport. 

The certificate shows that the bearer has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has recovered from the disease within the last six months, or has tested negative in the last few days.

Instead, the proposed ‘super green pass’ would only be issued to those who are vaccinated or recovered, with passes issued based on testing in future only valid for entry to workplaces.

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

While no concrete decisions have yet been made, sources within the health ministry have indicated that it is considering the measure for any region declared a higher-risk ‘orange’ zone.

“Closures and restrictions must not be paid for by the vaccinated,” said Health Undersecretary Andrea Costa, adding that the ‘super green pass’ plan would “guarantee the unvaccinated access to workplaces and basic needs, but certain activities such as going to a restaurant, cinema or theatre should be reserved for the vaccinated if the situation worsens.”

“It is clear that we must bring in new initiatives,” he said in an interview with Sky TG24 on Sunday.

EXPLAINED: Will Italy bring in a Covid lockdown for the unvaccinated?

At the moment all of Italy remains in the lowest-risk ‘white’ zone, with few health measures in place.

However several regions are now nearing the thresholds at which they would be moved into the ‘yellow’ zone next week, and – if the situation continues to worsen – then risk being placed under orange zone restrictions two weeks later.

Costa said a planned third dose obligation for health workers “is already foreseen and I think it will be approved this week.”

Health Minister Roberto Speranza put forward proposals last week to make third doses obligatory for the healthcare staff already subject to a vaccine requirement, and also to cut the validity of Italy’s Covid-19 health certificate – the so-called green pass – from 12 to nine months for people who are vaccinated, including with a third dose.

READ ALSO: Italy to start Covid boosters for over-40s on Monday as infection rate rises

The changes have not yet been formally approved, but are expected to come in from December 1st under the planned new decree set to be signed into law by the end of the week.

Other measures the government is reportedly considering include cutting the validity of green passes based on PCR test results from 72 to 48 hours, and those from the results of rapid testing will be reduced from 48 to 24 hours.

There have also been calls from health experts and regional leaders to stop issuing green passes based on rapid test results altogether, as these are less reliable than the results of a PCR test.