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Clashes in Florence between Italian police, protesters over Covid-19 curbs

 Italian police arrested 20 people during a protest against fresh Covid-19 measures, in which some demonstrators hurled Molotov cocktails, bottles and rocks, broke security cameras and overturned trash bins.

The mayor of the Italian city of Florence has lashed out against protestors on Saturday after violent skirmishes broke out between police and demonstrators opposed to the government's anti-Covid-19 measures.

Police arrested approximately 20 people during an unauthorised protest late on Friday after about 200 people gathered in the city centre were stopped from entering the Renaissance city's Piazza della Signoria, newspapers reported.

Clashes broke out in neighbouring streets between police in riot gear and protesters, some of whom hurled Molotov cocktails, bottles and rocks, overturning trash bins and breaking security cameras.

"We've lived a surreal, terrible and painful night in Florence," wrote Mayor Dario Nardella on Facebook early Saturday.

"This is not how you protest your grievances, this is not how you voice your suffering," Nardella wrote. "It's only violence as an end in itself, gratuitous.

"Those who scar Florence must pay for what they have done."

'Delinquents' and 'hooligans'

Protesters have taken to the streets in the past week in various cities across Italy to criticise a new series of measures to stop rising coronavirus cases in the country.

Italy reported over 31,084 new cases of the virus on Friday, breaking a new daily record.

The secretary general of the Florence police union, Riccardo Ficozzi, said the protestors were "delinquents" who did not represent those who sought to demonstrate legally.

In Bologna some 80 kilometres away, a few hundred people also protested, most of them young men, including football hooligans and some giving the fascist salute, La Repubblica daily reported.

Footage showed the newspaper's video journalist being harassed and chased away.

"Journalist, terrorist!" shouted the crowd.

Covid-19 restrictions

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced new nationwide coronavirus restrictions, including the closure of all cinemas, theatres, gyms and swimming pools and the closing of restaurants and bars at 1700GMT.

Conte has said he wants to give the latest measures two weeks to take effect before deciding whether a fuller lockdown is needed, as has been ordered in neighbouring France.

The government has announced that $5.9 billion dollars will be issued to the worst hit professions, including restaurants, taxi drivers and live entertainment venues.

The new measures spurred a wave of demonstrations in Rome, Milan, Naples and Turin on Monday and Tuesday, marked by violence and vandalism, with riot police firing teargas at groups of young people hurling bottles and rocks.


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