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Milan mayor angry at photos of crowds along canals

A view of a canal in the Navigli area in Milan, Italy, on May 4. A view of a canal in the Navigli area in Milan, Italy, on May 4. Fabrizio Di Nucci/NurPhoto/Getty Images

The Mayor of Milan, Beppe Sala, expressed his horror at images of locals going for evening strolls in the Navigli area of the Italian city despite coronavirus restrictions still requiring social distancing.

On Thursday evening many people were pictured strolling along the canals as restaurants and bars mount continued pressure on the government to reopen. 

“When it’s time to thank the Milanese for their virtuous behavior I am always the first to do it and I also like it. But there are times when you get really p****ed off and this is one of those moments. Yesterday’s images along the canals are shameful,” Sala said Friday during a live broadcast on Facebook. 

According to the government’s latest decree, since Monday — when phase 2 of the coronavirus containment phase began — Italians can leave their home only to go to work, for health reasons, for necessity (such as buying food, visiting relatives), or to carry out sports or physical activities outdoors.

Gatherings are prohibited and people must maintain a one-meter distance from others.

Milan is the capital of Lombardy, the Italian region hit the hardest by coronavirus. Since the start of the epidemic, 14,745 coronavirus deaths have been registered in the region: that is almost half of the total number of deaths registered in Italy (29,958), according to the latest figures from the Civil Protection Department.

The Mayor stressed that the city needs to get back up on its feet and that he supports “those who go to work and struggle to make ends meet,” not “those who have fun.” 

“I will not allow a few rowdy people without a mask next to each other to question this,” Sala said.

“We are not only in crisis from the health point of view and we have seen how much the pandemic has affected this city. But we are also in a profound socio-economic crisis. Milan needs to go back to work. This is the point. It is not a desire to reopen, it is a necessity,” Sala said. 

The Mayor announced that checks will be increased Friday and he issued an ultimatum: “Either things change today or tomorrow I will take measures, I will close the area” and prohibit bars to provide takeaway.

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