With most of Italy suffering from having been subjected to another government-imposed hard lockdown since mid-March, Italian citizens took to the streets of Rome to demand the beginning of the reopening of the economy before the situation becomes critical for most of the population.
New Europe spoke with Attorney Lorenzo Nannelli from the I open group (I’m Open) about the anti-lockdown protests that the group organized in Rome. Italian business owners hope to call to attention the fact that the promised government economic support measures are insufficient and cannot support the tens of thousands of businesses that have been forced to close. In other EU countries like Germany and Belgium, business owners received substantially more subsidies compared to the losses that they have suffered as a result of the COVID pandemic.
New Europe (NE): I’ve heard that you will travel to Brussels. What will be on your agenda?
Lorenzo Nannelli (LN): Next week, a small delegation of 4-5 people, which I will be a part of, will travel to Brussels to speak with the European Union’s institutions. We were invited by some MEPs to discuss an institutional meeting about our current challenges. Even if we do not get a concrete result, our goal, thanks to this visit, will be to spread the message of our protest to the people of Brussels.
BORN: The very last rumors on April 16 suggest that the Italian government is ready announce the reestablishment of the so-called ‘yellow zone’, with restaurants reopening, including for dinners at outdoor tables, from April 26. What’s your comment on this development?
LN: We are very cautious about this announcement. The reason being that several times before, we’ve received promises from different political forces about a reopening of the activities “in two weeks”, but at the end of the day, we didn’t see anything concrete. We welcome every positive piece of news about an economic reopening, but we are cautious. We want to stress and push positive messages, but we don’t want to spread false hopes about reopenings because this is very damaging to our credibility. We will certainly continue our protests, and we are organizing a rally in Rome on April 25, the day Italy celebrates Liberation Day. After our meeting at the Economy Ministry, where we met the Under Secretary Claudio Durigon, they told us that there could be a reopening at the end of April, but then we heard other rumors about an even earlier date. At the moment everything still depends on the COVID data. Obviously, we will consider celebrating a victory only if these reopenings allow people to go to dinner at restaurants or go use the gym. We want a full reopening that follows the necessary security measures and COVID protocols that include social distancing. It will be fundamental to end the curfew and ban on regional travel, just as we were last summer. I want to again underline that we will continue our “noisy” protests without violence. I also want to stress that we will better organize ourselves internally in order to block violent groups that might exploit the message of our movement by creating a distorted image about the legitimate goals of our protests. I can confirm that not a single person from our group was arrested or identified by the police during the clashes that happened on Monday (April 12). The openings are now essential because the financial support received till now is totally insufficient to face this dramatic situation. People are incapable of being able to manage the daily expenses needed to keep their business running. I’m sure the government doesn’t want to go on with a situation where you have protests every day and more social instability.
BORN: You had some problems in Rome with the police department after they decided not to give you the authorization to organize your rally this week in front of the Parliament. Are you trying to unblock the situation?
LN: We are working on it. Our goal for next week’s program is to secure a meeting at the Ministry of Interior. We want to build up a more positive relationship with Italy’s government institutions. As a result, we’ve asked for several meetings, to be set for next week, with other relevant ministries because it is important to raise awareness as much as possible at all government levels.