Thousands of people gather in Vienna to protest against Austrian lockdown and vaccination mandate



THOUSANDS OF PROTESTANTS gathered in Vienna today after the Austrian government announced a nationwide lockdown to contain the rapid rise in coronavirus infections in the country.

The far-right opposition Freedom Party was among those who called for the protest and pledged to fight the new restrictions.

Protests against the Covid measures were also expected in other European countries, including Switzerland, Croatia and Italy.

Dutch police opened fire on protesters on Friday and seven people were injured in riots that broke out in central Rotterdam around a protest against Covid-19 restrictions.

Further protests took place today in the Netherlands in the southern city of Breda, AFP reported this afternoon. A few hundred protesters also gathered in Amsterdam, according to Dutch media.

In Austria, meanwhile, the lockdown will begin early Monday and initially last for 10 days. It will last a maximum of 20 days, the Austrian government said.

Most stores will close and cultural events will be canceled. People will only be able to leave their homes for certain reasons, such as shopping for groceries, going to the doctor, or exercising.

The Austrian government has also said that from February 1 vaccinations will be mandatory.

Vaccinations in Austria have peaked at one of the lowest rates in Western Europe, and hospitals in heavily affected states have warned their intensive care units are reaching maximum capacity. The average number of daily deaths has tripled in recent weeks.

Not quite 66% of the 8.9 million Austrians are fully vaccinated, according to government figures.

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg apologized to everyone who had been vaccinated on Friday, saying it was not fair that they were subjected to the new lockdown restrictions when they had done everything to help contain the virus.

“I am sorry for taking this drastic step,” he told public broadcaster ORF.

Aluminum foil hats

Thousands of protesters gathered today on Heldenplatz.

About 1,300 police officers were on duty. They used loudspeakers to tell protesters that masks were mandatory, but most did not wear them.

Sing “Resistance! And blowing whistles, protesters began to move slowly on the city’s inner ring road.

Some wore medical scrubs, others wore foil hats. Most of the signs related to the vaccine’s mandate. “My body, my choice,” we read. “We stand up for our children,” said another.

Freedom Party leader Herbert Kickl, who announced earlier this week that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and was due to self-isolate at home, made a video appearance.

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He denounced what he called “totalitarian” measures by a government “which believes it has to think and decide for us”.

In France, for his part, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin today condemned the incidents on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, one of the French overseas territories, where violent protests erupted this week. against Covid restrictions.

Darmanin said 29 people were arrested by police overnight.

Authorities announced on Friday a decision to send 200 more police to the island and a night curfew from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. to be imposed until Tuesday.

Protesters set up roadblocks and set street equipment and cars on fire. They denounce the Covid health pass which is mandatory to access restaurants and cafes, cultural places, sports arenas and long-distance travel.

They are also protesting against compulsory vaccination for healthcare workers.

The pass shows people are fully vaccinated, have had a recent negative test, or have recent evidence of recovery from Covid-19.

– Additional AFP reports



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