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Italian protesters scuffle with police over Covid restrictions

Telegraph, 07 Apr 2021
Dozens of small business owners scuffled with police on Tuesday as they tried to force their way into Rome's parliament square to protest against Italy's long-running coronavirus restrictions.

"Freedom, freedom," protesters shouted as police used batons and shields to push them back into an adjacent street. One policeman was injured after he was hit on the head by an object hurled at him from the crowd, local media reported.

The government has imposed repeated curbs over the past 14 months to try to contain COVID-19, which has killed more than 111,000 people in Italy, the second worst tally in Europe after Britain.

Last week the cabinet ruled that bars and restaurants could only offer a takeaway service in April, angering many businesses who had hoped to reopen fully as the vaccination campaign picks up speed and case numbers hold relatively steady.

"The health situation is serious but our economic and social situation is more serious. Here there are 10,000 people, 10,000 families, 10,000 women and children who are desperate," said restaurant owner Umberto Cariera, from the city of Pesaro.

"Desperation has brought us here," he added.

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