Manfred Manera

Italy’s anti-Green Pass movement has a new figurehead

[Getty Images]


From this week, all workers in Italy must show a ‘green pass’ certificate in order to access any public place. A green pass shows that you’ve either been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from Covid-19, and anyone without a pass could be suspended from work and fined.

But why is the Mario Draghi administration restricting basic public freedoms in this way when the Italian vaccination rate is one of the highest in the world? It is nothing short of mind-boggling. We have a higher vaccination rate than the UK, for instance, though restrictions have been all but lifted there. Yes, Covid is dangerous, but this unjustified loss of freedom is dangerous too because Italians are angry and increasingly taking to the streets. There have already been large protests — I’ve attended a few — and more are planned, though for some reason most of the media downplays them.

Take the protest a few weeks ago in the Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano, the square traditionally used for trade union rallies. I was there and I can tell you that the crowd came from every sector of society and the demonstration was extremely large even though it was not organised by a trade union or political party. I estimated that there were at least 80,000 protestors, but Italy’s main newspaper, La Repubblica, reported that the police claimed there were only 3,000. Perhaps for fear of seeming to side with anti-vaxxers, the Italian papers are portraying protestors as a sort of unreasonable lunatic fringe, although in my experience they are peaceful and well-informed.

‘You can stop wearing a mask now.’

That day in Piazza San Giovanni, a determined young woman appeared on the stage. She was a police officer, but said she had come to speak as a private citizen. ‘When I became a police officer I swore to defend the constitution.

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