Tensions flared in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, as riot police faced off with angry demonstrators who were led by local traders. Business owners across Italy have warned the 6pm closure of bars and restaurants and the complete shutting down of gyms, swimming pools and cinemas will be a death knell for many people’s livelihoods.

Infuriated Sicilians took to Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Palermo’s oldest street, to make their anger known to authorities.

A journalist was hit by a firecracker and had first aid administered by paramedics at the scene.  

As riot police used shields to protect themselves from the flying missiles, they chased the protesters along the city’s iconic street before they dispersed into alleys.

Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is under mounting pressure to unveil a funding package for businesses affected by the latest raft of coronavirus restrictions.

Protests have been taking place in Italian towns and cities since Monday as Italy grapples with a second COVID-19 wave.

In Verona there were also scenes of violence as police clashed with far-right demonstrators.

Officers responded to the unrest by throwing tear gas canisters into the crowds in a bid to scatter the group.

After they had marched through city centre streets, the protesters congregated at Piazza delle Erbe where some people threw firecrackers and other missiles at police.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

More to follow….

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