ROME: Tensions are building across the poorest southern regions of Campania, Calabria, Sicily and Puglia as people run out of food and money due to the lockdown enters fourth week.
As part of the strict implementation of the lockdown, the government has increased number of checkpoints to discourage people from going out. It has been reported that people are pressurizing shop owners to give food for free. After knowing this, Italian police are patrolling supermarkets to prevent thefts.
Small but vocal crowds of unemployed have gathered in front of city halls in the south, calling for financial help to buy food. Police dispersed the crowd and identified some of the demonstrators.
In some areas, police gave demonstrators sandwiches and cigarettes to calm them down.
Similar scenes were witnessed in the Naples and Bari hinterland. Investigators are concerned that this could be a visible sign that the situation is heating up, and are afraid that the mafia might take advantage.
The self-employed, and those working on contracts that do not guarantee social benefits provided by the government to help face the crisis, have lost their salaries. Many small businesses may never reopen.
The ramifications of the lockdown, which has been extended until after Easter, are also hitting badly the estimated 3.3 million people in Italy who are unorganized workers. Out of these 3.3 million, more than 1 million live in Campania, Sicily, Puglia and Calabria, according to the most recent figures from CGIA Mestre, a Venice-based small business association.