Anti-lockdown protests break out in Europe amid new COVID wave

Protesters in Germany clashed with police on Saturday over coronavirus measures, with officers using water cannon, pepper spray and batons against people trying to break through police barriers.

Protests against government measures to rein in the pandemic also were reported in several other countries across Europe, including Austria, the UK, Finland, Romania and Switzerland.

More than 20,000 people participated in the protest in the central German city of Kassel, despite a court ban, where there were also confrontations between demonstrators and counter-protesters.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that Germany will have to apply an “emergency brake” and reverse some recent relaxations of restrictions as coronavirus infections accelerate.

Germany’s national disease control centre said new infections were growing exponentially as the more contagious COVID-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom has become dominant in the country.

On Saturday, the Robert Koch Institute reported 16,033 new cases and registered 207 additional deaths, bringing the overall death toll to 74,565 in Germany.

But protesters say the measures such as the closure of non-essential shops, hotels, restaurants and gyms are a threat to their freedom.

In London, demonstrators opposing the UK’s months-long lockdown defied police who warned of potential fines and arrest for violating prohibitions on group meetings.

In Finland, police estimated that about 400 people without masks, packed tightly together, gathered in the capital Helsinki to protest government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions.

In Austria, about 1,000 protesters participated in a demonstration against the government’s virus measures near Vienna’s central train station.

In Switzerland, more than 5,000 protesters met for a silent march in the community of Liestal 15km (9 miles) southeast of the city of Basel, local media reported.

More than 1,000 anti-vaccination protesters took to the streets in Romania’s capital of Bucharest amid a surge of COVID-19 infections there.

The largely mask-less crowd honked horns, waved national flags, and chanted messages such as “Block vaccination,” and “Freedom.” One placard read: “Parents, protect your children! Stop the fear!”

Police officers in riot gear hold down a protester during a demonstration demanding an end to COVID restrictions in the central German city of Kassel. [Yann Schreiber/AFP]
Police officers in riot gear hold down a protester during a demonstration demanding an end to COVID restrictions in the central German city of Kassel. [Yann Schreiber/AFP]

Advertisement

Police forces stand next to a water cannon during a rally in Kassel under the motto "Free citizens Kassel - basic rights and democracy". [Swen Pfoertner/DPA via AP]
Police forces stand next to a water cannon during a rally in Kassel under the motto “Free citizens Kassel – basic rights and democracy”. [Swen Pfoertner/DPA via AP]
In Berlin, some 1,800 police officers were on standby for possible riots, but only about 500 protesters assembled at the city's landmark Brandenburg Gate. [Filip Singer/EPA]
In Berlin, some 1,800 police officers were on standby for possible riots, but only about 500 protesters assembled at the city’s landmark Brandenburg Gate. [Filip Singer/EPA]
Police officers detain a demonstrator during a rally against the government's restrictions following a rise in COVID cases in Berlin. [Christian Mang/Reuters]
Police officers detain a demonstrator during a rally against the government’s restrictions following a rise in COVID cases in Berlin. [Christian Mang/Reuters]
Between 3,000 and 5,000 people took part in a silent anti-lockdown demonstration in Liestal, northern Switzerland. [Stefan Wermuth/AFP]
Between 3,000 and 5,000 people took part in a silent anti-lockdown demonstration in Liestal, northern Switzerland. [Stefan Wermuth/AFP]
A protester wears a donkey mask during a demonstration in Liestal against ongoing COVID restrictions. [Stefan Wermuth/AFP]
A protester wears a donkey mask during a demonstration in Liestal against ongoing COVID restrictions. [Stefan Wermuth/AFP]

Advertisement

An anti-lockdown demonstration takes place in Lisbon, Portugal. [Antonio Cotrim/EPA]
An anti-lockdown demonstration takes place in Lisbon, Portugal. [Antonio Cotrim/EPA]
Protesters march during an anti-lockdown demonstration in London. On Saturday, British Health Secretary Hancock said half of all UK adults have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. [Neil Hall/EPA]
Protesters march during an anti-lockdown demonstration in London. On Saturday, British Health Secretary Hancock said half of all UK adults have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. [Neil Hall/EPA]
Police detain a protester during an anti-lockdown demonstration in London, UK. [Neil Hall/EPA]
Police detain a protester during an anti-lockdown demonstration in London, UK. [Neil Hall/EPA]
A woman holds a sign as she takes part in a demonstration against the coronavirus measures in Vienna, Austria. [Lisi Niesner/Reuters]
A woman holds a sign as she takes part in a demonstration against the coronavirus measures in Vienna, Austria. [Lisi Niesner/Reuters]
About 1,000 protesters participated in a demonstrations against the government's virus measures near Vienna's central train station. [Lisi Niesner/Reuters]
About 1,000 protesters participated in a demonstrations against the government’s virus measures near Vienna’s central train station. [Lisi Niesner/Reuters]
A woman waves a bible while shouting anti-government slogans during a protest in front of government headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, against a new mandatory vaccination law project and against new measures ordered by the government during the third wave of the COVID pandemic [Robert Ghement/EPA]
A woman waves a bible while shouting anti-government slogans during a protest in front of government headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, against a new mandatory vaccination law project and against new measures ordered by the government during the third wave of the COVID pandemic [Robert Ghement/EPA]
More than 1,000 anti-vaccination protesters took to the streets in Romania's capital of Bucharest amid a surge of COVID-19 infections. [Robert Ghement/EPA]
More than 1,000 anti-vaccination protesters took to the streets in Romania’s capital of Bucharest amid a surge of COVID-19 infections. [Robert Ghement/EPA]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *