In a desperate attempt to avoid a new wave of coronavirus contagions, the Italian government will issue a call to recruit 60,000 volunteers who will help people comply with the social distancing measures.
The move came after thousands of citizens thronged Italian beaches, squares and bars to spend their first weekend outdoors, after the end of a two-month lockdown.
Authorities, however, are worried that huge get-togethers and crowds in the cities’ piazzas may provoke a new spike in the virus contagion curve, which has eventually started falling.
The initiative of hiring volunteers came from the Minister for Regional Affairs Francesco Boccia and the association of local municipalities, which will launch a call for the recruitment next week.
The volunteers will oblige people -- “with kindness” and without the possibility of imposing fines -- to respect social distancing rules in the parks, beaches and clubs, while also supporting the weakest part of the population, including kids and elderly people.
The 60,000 civil assistants, or volunteers, must be older than 18-years-old, unemployed or low-income earners, supported by social safety nets. They won’t be paid and will operate until the end of the state of emergency declared by the Italian government, after being trained by local authorities.
Politicians and experts have been highly alarmed by the huge and often unruly crowds that have gathered in public spaces in all the main Italian cities, from north to south, during the weekend.
In the northern city of Brescia, the mayor has tried to intervene with new restrictions, forcing bars to shut down two hours before than usual.
In the southern city of Naples, authorities could not contain the traffic on the waterfront, which lasted until 04:00 a.m. local time (0200GMT), with sidewalks invaded by cars and motorcycles.
Eighteen people were fined in Bari, in the Apulia region, in just three hours.
The figure of the civil assistant, however, has already raised criticism among citizens who fear to be further limited in their individual freedom.
The president of ANCI, the national association of Italian municipalities, addressed these concerns, calling for individuals’ sense of responsibility.
“We want to entrust volunteers with helping our communities in such a new and complex phase, in which we are learning how to live with the virus and how to defend us, going back to a life with less restrictions,” said Antonio Decaro.