ROME — On Saturday, thousands marched down Rome’s Via Veneto. Some even smashed their way into a union building and clashed with police. They were protesting Italy ‘s new vaccination requirement for employees that allows them to enter their offices.

The certification is mandatory starting Oct. 15. It applies to both public and private workplaces. Employers and employees risk being fined if they fail to comply. If a Green Pass is not presented five times, public sector workers could be fired. It is required to use the pass in Italy to enter museums and theaters as well as long-distance buses and trains as well as domestic flights.

The passes show that a person has had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, or recovered from the virus in the last six months, or has tested negative in the last 48 hours.

The first protestors held a loud, legal demonstration Saturday at Rome’s Piazza Del Popolo. They then left the square and clashed against police as they marched through Villa Borghese Park, down Via Veneto and into the Piazza Del Popolo in an unlicensed march.

A few hundred protesters broke away and went down another street in Rome’s historic main shopping area that ends near Premier Mario Draghi’s office in Chigi Palace. With the help of police vans, police formed a line and asked for water to block access to the Italian government’s seat.

Police used batons to attack some protestors. Several protesters gathered at Chigi Palace’s front line and raised their arms in nonviolent resistance to police. Some raised their fists in protest, while others waved flags of Italy and shouted “Freedom!”

Rai State TV said demonstrators numbered at least 10,000, while organizers claimed 100,000 people. RAI stated that at least one protester was hurt. According to Italian media, protesters included supporters of Forza Nuova, an extreme right-wing group.

It’s obvious that neofascist organizations hide behind so-called “anti-vaxxers,” Interior Minister Undersecretary Carlo Sibilia stated.

Some left-leaning protestors broke into the headquarters of CGIL and destroyed its office. Italy The main labor federations in Italy have supported the Green Pass requirement to ensure that factories and other workplaces are safe during the pandemic.

Draghi meanwhile pledged to continue with the government’s vaccine campaign.

” The right to express one’s thoughts can never be degenerate into acts or intimidation,” Draghi stated in a statement. Draghi condemned intimidation of unions as unacceptable, describing them as “a fundamental garrison for democracy .”

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” We won’t allow ourselves to be intimidated,” tweeted Federico D’Inca from the populist 5-Star Movement, who is the minister for parliamentary relationships.

Draghi has given credit to the Green Pass requirement for workplaces, resulting in a surge in recent vaccinations. As of Saturday, 80% of people 12 and older in Italy – those eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine shot – have been fully vaccinated.

Right wing leader Matteo Salvini (whose League party is part of Draghi’s broad-ranging coalition) made a plea Saturday for a partial relaxation of the Green Pass measure.

“Lengthen 48 to 72 Hours,” tweeted Salvini. He called it a step to “avoid confusion .”

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