Major protests have erupted in Italy as a new mandate requiring all workers to show a COVID pass in order to access their places of employment went into effect last Friday.  

Disruptions have been reported at three major Italian ports as dockers have staged sit-ins despite police using water cannons to disperse them.  

The new mandate imposed last Friday by the Italian government requires every worker in the nation, both in the public and private sectors, to show a so-called “green pass,” featuring a QR code, to access their workplaces.  The green pass is accepted as proof that the bearer has either had the COVID vaccine, recovered from COVID, or tested negative for the virus in the past 48 hours. Employees who go to work without the green pass face suspension without pay, as well as a fine of up to 1500 euros ($1750).  

The measure triggered a wave of demonstrations across the nation, the largest of which took place in the port city of Trieste, where 6000 dockers went on strike and gathered outside the port’s gates on Monday. It is estimated that 60% of Trieste’s port workers are still unvaccinated. 

 

The protesters shouted anti-pass slogans and held large banners reading, “No green pass, no discrimination.” They stood firm as police attempted to disperse them using water cannons and tear-gas.  

“They attacked us. I am speechless. I never expected it,” said Stefano Puzzer, the port protestors’ spokesman. 

 “We will sit down here. We are keeping calm. We will not give up.” 


There were also protests and disruptions in the ports of Genoa and Ancona, as well as in the central squares of some of Italy’s major cities, including Rome, Florence, and Bologna where thousands gathered to oppose the new draconian mandate, shouting “Libertà (Freedom)!”  

Similar protests took place in France back in July after President Macron announced his vaccine mandate. On France’s July 14 Bastille Day,  two days after Macron’s announcement, 20,000 took to the streets of Paris and other major French cities shouting the same slogan: “Freedom!”   

COVID measures in Italy are becoming increasingly harsh. A COVID pass introduced in June was required for access to Italy’s bars, restaurants, and leisure venues such as cinemas and stadiums. Teachers and school workers were already required to present it when showing up for work. But this new pass, similar to the one recently introduced in the Dominican Republic, is one of the world’s most restrictive: all unvaccinated people in Italy will either have to be vaccinated, get tested every two days, or lose their income.  

Opposition to these mandates has been building up in Italy over the past weeks. Last month, Rome’s deputy commissioner, Nunzia Alessandra Schilirò, faced disciplinary proceedings after speaking in front of crowds gathered at anti-pass rally. That same week, Archbishop Carlo Mario Viganó addressed anti-vaccine passport protesters gathered on a square in Turin.  

Since last Friday, this opposition seems to be gathering even more momentum.   Hashtags like #NoGreenPass and #NoVaccinePassports have appeared on Twitter, and hundreds of videos and photos of the protests have now been posted there. Protestors have also accused mainstream media of downplaying the protests. In Trieste, a video emerged on Twitter of a man showing a webcam-livestream of an almost empty square, as he is standing in that same square, which in reality is packed with of protesters. 


Fabio Bocin, a 59-year-old port worker in Trieste, said:  “The green pass is a bad thing; it is discrimination under the law. Nothing more. It’s not a health regulation; it’s just a political move to create division among people…”  

According to statistics published by the Italian government, 81% of Italy’s eligible population has already been fully vaccinated, and more than 85% have had their first dose. The government has also begun injecting booster shots for people over 80 or those with compromised immunity. 

Meanwhile, many people throughout the world are reluctant to take the currently available COVID-19 vaccines because of the thousands of deaths and millions of other serious injuries that have been reported after their use. Others do not want to take the vaccines because cell lines derived from aborted babies were used in their production or testing. 

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