Several European countries have announced new confinement measures which have aroused the frustration of a segment of the population. In Spain and Italy clashes are multiplying.
Across Europe, the number of new Covid-19 cases skyrocketed in one week with a 41% increase. It represented half of those reported worldwide in the last seven days. It’s seen as an outbreak that threatens to overwhelm hospitals and has prompted governments to once again restrict the freedom of movement of their citizens. Entire sectors of the economy have been closed, especially culture and commerce.
European countries are the third most affected region with 10.4 million official cases, behind Latin America and the Caribbean (11.3 million cases) and Asia (10.5). Worldwide, more than 46 million people were affected, of whom nearly 1.2 million have died.
Increasing clashes in Spain and Italy
With the fear of social and economic disruption lurking in the air, demonstrations were held for the second time in a row on the night of October 31st in several Spanish cities, followed by clashes with the police and acts of vandalism and looting.
The most significant unrest occurred in Madrid, where many demonstrators chanting “Freedom!” set dumpsters on fire and erected makeshift barricades on the Gran Via, one of the capital’s main arteries. They threw stones and flares at the police, who had to intervene to disperse them. Twelve people were slightly injured in the clashes, including three police officers, according to the emergency services. 32 people were arrested.
The protesters denounced the night curfew imposed last week and the confinement measures imposed by almost all of Spain’s regions in order to limit travel during the All Saints weekend. This was done with the aim of reducing the risk of further confinement measures ahead.
In Malaga, Andalucía, a small group of demonstrators also overturned garbage containers and threw bottles at the police. The Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, condemned these disturbances in a Tweet, stating that “the violent and irrational behavior of minority groups is intolerable.”
In Italy, opposition to the restrictions also led to clashes in Rome on the night of Saturday, October 31st, between police and hundreds of demonstrators. Similar incidents happened the day before in Florence and other major cities in recent days.
In recent days, the Italian government has imposed what the media calls “semi-confinement”: a curfew in several major regions, the closure of bars and restaurants at 6 p.m., as well as sports, cinema and concert halls. “The epidemiological curve is still very high,” said Health Minister Roberto Speranza, a supporter of a generalized containment. “Either we bend it or we’re in trouble.”