New covid-19 restrictions spark protests across Europe

On Saturday in Austria and Italy, citizens unhappy with renewed constraints marched to demonstrate their opposition. Other demonstrations were planned elsewhere in Europe.

Protests in Rotterdam over the new Dutch Covid-19 restrictions turned violent on Friday evening, and police said they arrested 51 people, fired warning shots and used water cannons to control rioters who bombarded police officers. stones, burned cars and set off powerful fireworks

Violent protests against the restrictions also took place in the Netherlands in January.

Dutch police said on Saturday that order was restored around midnight following extensive damage. They added that more arrests were likely after police from across the country were dispatched to the port city.

Seven people were injured, two of whom were shot and remained hospitalized, police said. The National Criminal Investigation Department is investigating whether the gunshot wounds came from bullets fired by police, as is routine in the Netherlands, Dutch police said on Twitter. Police officers were also injured, they said.

The riot began amid a peaceful rally of around 100 protesters. “The atmosphere quickly turned dark,” police said on a live blog. Rioters threw stones at police and set off powerful fireworks, prompting police to lock down the area and shut down the city’s central station, police said.

Police used water cannons and fired warning shots to control rioters when the violence became dangerous, police said. About half of the 51 people arrested were minors, according to police, and came from all over the country.

On Saturday afternoon, live footage on the Austrian Populist Party for Freedom website showed crowds of protesters gathered at Vienna’s Heldenplatz, near the Federal Chancellery and the residence of President Alexander Van der Bellen, and in the streets of downtown. Most of the demonstrators seemed unmasked. Some carried signs or banners with slogans such as “lies have short legs”.

The protests in Vienna, which police said included around 35,000 participants, were largely peaceful. Police said a dozen people were arrested after incidents involving stones and bottles thrown at police and smoke bombs, such as those used in football stadiums.

Some protesters chanted anti-vaccination and anti-government slogans, and others carried signs with messages such as “Vaccine coercion, no thanks!” And “That’s how it started in 1938”, referring to the Nazi takeover of Austria.

Police said some people wore yellow Stars of David, a Jewish symbol, with “unvaccinated” written on it in reference to the Nazis’ persecution of Jews. In Austria, the use of Nazi insignia and symbolism is prohibited by law.

Authorities also reported high attendance at vaccination centers across Austria. Authorities in Vienna said they recorded a record number of daily vaccinations – more than 30,000 – on Friday when new measures were announced.

The Austrian government announced an anti-Covid lockdown on Friday that will restrict most people to their homes for up to 20 days from Monday. Stores, bars and businesses such as hairdressers have been overwhelmed in anticipation of the lockdown which will see all non-essential businesses shut down.

Conservative Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg also announced that Austria will become the first European country to require all its citizens to receive the Covid vaccine, by February of next year, in order to participate in most aspects of public life. , including work outside the home.

“Despite months of campaigning and discussions, we have failed to convince enough people to get the vaccine,” Schallenberg said at a televised press conference.

The country’s Populist Freedom Party called for protests on Saturday. The vaccine’s mandate means “to throw the basis of our federal constitution overboard and lead the country into dictatorship.” … We cannot and must not accept this, ”FPÖ leader Herbert Kickl said on Friday.

In Italy, where demonstrations have been taking place on weekends for several weeks, demonstrations were expected in Rome and Milan. Since last month, Italy has required all employees to have a so-called Green Pass, demonstrating that they have received a Covid-19 vaccine, tested negative or cured of the virus. Since last weekend, those who protest against this requirement have been banned from city centers.

Most of Europe is seeing a resurgence in coronavirus infections, although countries in southern Europe have also seen cases increase, but from a weaker base. Parts of Germany with high case and hospitalization rates said on Thursday they would be stranded next week.

This story was posted from a feed with no text editing

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