Trieste is not exactly the center of Italy. The city is so far in the northeast of the country that it is already Central Europe. In the past few weeks, however, it was suddenly very present in the minds of Italians. Hardly a day went by that she was not mentioned on the evening news, always in the same context. Trieste had become the capital of the “No Pass” and “No Vax”, the center of the certificate and vaccination opponents. The splendid Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia was their stage, their shop window.
The main drivers of the protest were initially the dock workers. They threatened to paralyze the logistical hub in international trade if the government did not withdraw the “Green Pass”, which has been valid for workers in all offices and companies since October 15. It did not come to that, the blockade did not materialize either, and the dock workers withdrew. But the rallies continued. Thousands also came from other regions of Italy, a heterogeneous crowd of people with no sense of keeping their distance or wearing masks. Until it got too much for the mayor, and that’s no wonder.
Overnight, Trieste had become the hotspot of the pandemic because of the protests. Nowhere in Italy is the coronavirus spreading faster than in the far northeast. The weekly incidence per 100,000 inhabitants is 410 – eight times higher than the national average. The hospitals in the province have filled up. The utilization of the intensive care units is approaching the value above which a color change in the Italian traffic light system and thus a tightening of the measures is due.
The reputation as the capital of the “No Pass” is also a medium catastrophe economically: Hotels, restaurants and shops complain about canceled bookings and collapsing income. Mayor Roberto Dipiazza therefore decreed that the beautiful square of the unity of Italy should remain closed to rallies until the end of the year. But that is not enough, sometimes the rallies break through the lock.
Expression of opinion only in the periphery
Now the Italian Ministry of the Interior is preparing to restrict the freedom of demonstration throughout the country, including in other protest cities, such as Milan and Rome, in Padua and Novara: There should be no more marches through city centers, but only sit-in strikes far away from the shopping areas , the party and union headquarters, the palaces of power. This would ensure that citizens could freely express their opinions in public, as stipulated in Article 21 of the Italian Constitution, without violating Article 32, which deals with the fundamental right to health protection.
Which weighs heavier: Article 21 or Article 32? Can they even be combined in a pandemic? Surveys give a clear picture: Only a small minority of Italians support the opponents of the certificate, but they do so particularly loudly and sometimes violently. “We listen to what the opponents say,” writes the newspaper Corriere della Sera in a comment. “But we’re not going to allow them to stand up to those who want to live and work again.”