Italian police swarm around man sunbathing on deserted beach

Italian police swarm around man sunbathing on deserted beach and fine him for breaking lockdown rules as country confirms it will begin ‘reopening’ on May 4 with some restrictions

  • The video demonstrated methods used by Italian police to cover large distances 
  • But the heavy-handedness sparked a backlash with some calling them ‘dictators’
  • Italy went into a nationwide quarantine on 9 March, banning all but vital activity
  • Italian PM Giuseppe Conte confirmed some measures will be lifted on May 4 
  • Monday saw Italy’s first drop in the number of people suffering from the virus

Italian police shared a video online on Tuesday in which they are seen using drones to hunt down a man lying alone on a beach, before issuing him with a fine.

The police officers can be seen flying a drone to survey the beach from above before finding the unaware sunbather, and then closing in on him while riding quad-bikes.

As the officers approach, the man sits up from his sunbed, visibly surprised to see two well-equipped police officers standing over him.

Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed on Tuesday that the country would lift some lockdown measures on May 4, but that this would be done on a regional basis.

Italian police are seen in a video shared by Rimini’s local police force patrolling the beach in a car and on quadbikes, using drones from above to survey the area for quarantine rule-breakers

The video was taken in Rimini in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region on the east cost. It is one of the most famous seaside resorts in the country and has around 15 kilometers of beaches.

Shared by the City’s public relations office, the was intended to demonstrate how the police were enforcing the nationwide lockdown rules and covering large areas like parks and beaches using drones and all-terrain vehicles. 

However, the video and photos had the unintended effect of prompting a backlash against the police’s heavy handedness. 

Comments under the images said the police were going too far, and that the man was already practicing social distancing before the police surrounded him. 

One comment read ‘this in not necessary’ with another person wrote ‘you are dictators’. Another commenter noted the sunbather for setting a good example of ‘social distancing’. Some people online even turned one of the images into a meme.

The drones allow police to cover larger areas, like parks and beaches, when patrolling for people breaking the lockdown rules. However, they have been criticised for their approach

According to the Italian Interior Ministry, 17,500 people were reported over the weekend for failing to comply with social distancing measures that are in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

On Sunday alone, 8,641 were sanctioned for illegitimate travel, 74 for false declarations and nine for violating quarantine. 

On Tuesday Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, confirmed that the country would start to reopen on May 4 but the government will not be lifting all the measures that are in place.

Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, wrote on Facebook that the government is looking to live some of the coronavirus restrictions in the country on May 4

The country has been under some of the strictest lockdown measures among western democracies since the nationwide quarantine was imposed by Conte on March 9, restricting all but necessary movement. At that point, some regions were already under quarantine. 

‘Many citizens are tired of the efforts that have been made so far and would like a significant loosening of these measures, or even their total abolition,’ Conte said in a Facebook post.

‘I would like to be able to say, let’s open everything. Right away,’ Conte wrote. ‘But such a decision would be irresponsible. It would make the contagion curve rise uncontrollably and would jeopardise all the efforts that we have made until now.’ 

He said that by the end of the week, he would reveal the steps the country will take to loosen restrictions, reopen the economy and emerge from the coronavirus crisis, but also said that they would take into account different regional circumstances.

‘We have to reopen on the basis of policy that takes into consideration all the details and cuts across all the data. A serious policy, scientific,’ Conte wrote.

‘A reasonable expectation is that we will apply it from May 4.’

Italy’s north, the region hardest-hit by the virus and the country’s economic engine, has been straining to restart industry after a shutdown of nonessential manufacturing on March 26. 

Some in Italy’s poorer south have said it is unfair that they are subject to the same lockdown conditions as the north, despite fewer coronavirus cases and a lower population density in many areas.

The Mediterranean country’s 60 million citizens have been barred from walking more than 200 metres (650 feet) from their homes without a significant reason. 

Italy has been under a national government enforce quarantine since March 9, with all but essential movement and activity banned to prevent the spread of the coronavirus

In recent days, some businesses have already received permission to reopen with a much-reduced workforce.

In laying out the challenges ahead, Conte cited how, in allowing businesses to reopen as part of ‘Phase 2’, officials needed to consider how workers would get to and from work in order to avoid congestion which could risk a second wave of infections.

Earlier this month, Conte gave a task force, made up of economists, lawyers, sociologists and other experts, the job of studying the post-lockdown measures needed to restart the economy while protecting worker’s health. 

Italy reported its first drop on Monday in the number of people currently suffering from the virus since recording its first infection in February.

Since then, Italy became the epicentre of the virus in Europe. It has seen a total of 181,228 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and the official death toll is 24,114 – second only to the United States.     

Italy saw just 2,256 new coronavirus cases on Monday, 20 April – their lowest level in over a month as the total number of people infected fell for first time since pandemic began

Italy saw a slight increase in the number of new deaths recorded yesterday, with 454. Italy’s official death toll is 24,114, second only to the United States

 

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