Protesters take part in a demonstration in Milan on July 24, 2021, against the introduction of a mandatory 'green pass' for indoor dining and entertainment area, in the aim to limit the spread of the Covid-19. AFP
Thousands of people protested in cities across Italy Saturday against the government's introduction of restrictions on unvaccinated people as Rome tries to slow an upturn in Covid-19 infections.
"Freedom!" and "Down with the dictatorship!" chanted Italian flag-waving demonstrators from Naples in the south to Turin in the north, while rain-soaked protesters in Milan shouted "No Green Pass!".
The vast majority were not wearing masks.
The Green Pass, which is an extension of the EU's digital Covid certificate, will be required from August 6 to enter cinemas, museums, indoor swimming pools or sports stadiums, or eat indoors at restaurants.
It will serve as proof bearers have either been vaccinated, undergone a recent negative Covid-19 test, or recovered from a coronavirus infection.
Business owners are expected to enforce the rules or face stiff fines under the measure adopted by the cabinet this week as it attempts to protect the slowly recovering economy and prevent further lockdowns.
A proposal to make the pass mandatory for travelling by train, coach or plane is expected to be re-evaluated in September.
"Better to die free than live like slaves!" read one placard held up outside Milan's Gothic cathedral, while another in Rome's historic centre read "Vaccines set you free" over a picture of the gates to Auschwitz.
Protesters in Genova were wearing yellow Star of David badges declaring them "unvaccinated".
Demonstrations had been announced on social media for Saturday in at least 80 cities.
The decision Thursday to make the pass mandatory for many activities saw a boom in vaccine bookings, up 200 percent in Italy's smaller regions, according to Covid-19 emergency chief Francesco Figliuolo.
Italy, one of the hardest-hit by the pandemic in Europe, reported over 5,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, and five deaths.