Taormina in lockdown for G7 Summit

Even residents and children must wear special photo ID

(ANSA) - Rome, May 25 - The entire Sicilian seaside town of Taormina is on lockdown ahead of the G7 summit taking place there on Friday and Saturday, with no one allowed to enter or exit without a specially issued, color-coded photo ID.
    Even residents, both adults and children, have to wear their own color-coded badges, issued as part of an entire system with different colored badges assigned to event technicians, military personnel, law enforcement and intelligence officers, journalists, and summit delegates. The town is eerily quiet, with armed military personnel stationed every 10 metres along the town's main street, Corso Umberto.
    Security for the summit has been arranged in a series of concentric circles whose circumference begins with checkpoints in the nearby town Giardini Naxos and at the Messina-Catania highway exit, and ends at the summit location, Hotel San Domenico, where one employee said he's had to undergo "50 checks a day; but by now they know me".
    The only entrance points to Taormina's city centre - two historic arches, Catania and Messina, standing on opposite sides of the centre - are equipped with airport-standard metal detectors that can also detect whether the color-coded entry badges are authentic or counterfeit.
    Surveillance cameras are strategically placed everywhere, and all the data gets sent back to the main operations centre inside the city hall building, where 7,000 people are temporarily working within the historic Palace of the Dukes of Santo Stefano.
    Video images come from as far as the town of Giardini Naxos and also include those transmitted from body cameras being worn by hundreds of undercover law enforcement agents.
    Messina police chief Giuseppe Cucchiara said although the coming days will require intense effort, "we're giving it our all".
    The ground floor is set up for those managing bodyguards, public safety and checkpoints, while downstairs are offices where local and national law enforcement and intelligence agents are working alongside agents from European police agency Europol and international police agency Interpol.
    Roberto Maugeri, the police staffer managing the operations centre, said it's equipped to handle "any situation that might occur".
    "We can immediately share any information and access all databanks," he said.
    Local residents are mostly resigned to the situation, although some complain that it should have taken place earlier than now, before tourist season hit.
    Outside a coffee shop called the Wonderbar, whose 16 tables are vacant, thoughts turn to the philosophical.
    "We've adapted; we knew it was coming and we can't do anything about it. And in any case, this will be great publicity for Taormina".
   

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