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Protests against Covid lockdowns across Europe as restrictions are tightened

Protests across Europe as restrictions are tightened to combat rising cases
The surge in cases across Europe ‘is a cause for concern’ (Picture: AFP via Getty)

Thousands of protesters rallied in cities across Europe over the weekend in protest at tighter restrictions imposed to combat the latest coronavirus wave spreading across the continent.

More than half of the global average weekly infections are now being recorded in Europe, with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) special envoy on Covid-19 saying the speed at which cases are rising is ‘a cause for concern’.

Dr David Nabarro told Sky News he can understand the protests, but added: ‘I’m really very, very anxious about what I’m seeing right across Europe, including now in Western Europe – these very large numbers of cases – but also the speed with which they’re increasing really is a cause for concern.

‘I’m not surprised because this virus is just not going away.

‘And I’m also not surprised that people are protesting because, actually, the public in so many countries are really fed up with what’s going on.

‘However, me, as a public health person, I’ve got to share with UK that we’re going to have to go on, we’re going have to go on resisting this virus and we do it through making it hard for the virus to get from one person to another with face masks and also with avoiding breathing in the air breathed out by others.’

Police in Brussels resorted to firing water cannon and tear gas at the 35,000 gathered to demonstrate against lockdown measures and the vaccine programme when projectiles were thrown.

The crowd, which included far right activists and LGBT campaigners, lined up behind a banner saying ‘Together for Freedom’ and shouted ‘freedom, freedom, freedom’.

In the Netherlands, more than 30 people were arrested after riots at The Hague on Saturday, following even worse violence the night before.

Rotterdam’s mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, condemned ‘an orgy of violence’ at Friday’s demonstrations where seven people were hurt and more than 20 were arrested.

Hundreds of rioters filled the capital to protest against a fresh three-week partial lockdown, plans to introduce a Covid vaccine pass and a ban on New Year’s Eve fireworks.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 21: Police intervene in demonstrators as they gather around Nord Train Station to protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccine, in Brussels, Belgium on November 21, 2021. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Police intervene in protests in Brussels (Picture: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 21: Police intervene in demonstrators as they gather around Nord Train Station to protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccine, in Brussels, Belgium on November 21, 2021. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Demonstrators gathered around Nord Train Station to protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccine (Picture: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
epa09596319 Protesters face riot place clash during an anti-coronavirus measures protest in Brussels Belgium, 21 November 2021. In a move to tackle yet another COVID-19 wave, the Belgian government imposed strict measures, pushing thousands to the streets to protest against mandatory vaccinations, health pass and anti-coronavirus measures. EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ
Protesters face riot police (Picture: EPA)
Belgian riot police stand by a burning trash can as clashes erupt during a demonstration against Covid-19 measures, including the country's health pass, in Brussels on November 21, 2021. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP) (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)
Belgian riot police stand by a burning trash can as clashes erupt (Picture: AFP via Getty)
A fire is built at a protest against the health pass (Picture: Rex/Shutterstock)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 21: Demonstrators gather around Nord Train Station to protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccine, in Brussels, Belgium on November 21, 2021. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Thousands of demonstrators in Brussels (Picture: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
epa09596316 Protesters face riot place clash during an anti-coronavirus measures protest in Brussels Belgium, 21 November 2021. In a move to tackle yet another COVID-19 wave, the Belgian government imposed strict measures, pushing thousands to the streets to protest against mandatory vaccinations, health pass and anti-coronavirus measures. EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ
Thousands protested against mandatory vaccinations, a health pass and anti-coronavirus measures (Picture: EPA)
TOPSHOT - Demonstrators take part in a rally held by Austria's far-right Freedom Party FPOe against the measures taken to curb the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, at Maria Theresien Platz square in Vienna, Austria on November 20, 2021. - Austria will impose a lockdown for all and make vaccinations mandatory, Austria's Chancellor Schallenberg announced on November 19, making the country the first in the EU to take such stringent measures as coronavirus cases spiral. The Alpine nation plans to make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory from February 1 next year, while the lockdown will start from Monday, November 22 and will be evaluated after 10 days. (Photo by Joe Klamar / AFP) (Photo by JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images)
Demonstrators take part in a rally held by Austria’s far-right Freedom Party FPOe (Picture: AFP via Getty)
Hundreds of people take part in a demonstration against the country's coronavirus restrictions in Vienna, Austria, Saturday, Nov.20, 2021. Thousands of protesters are expected to gather in Vienna after the Austrian government announced a nationwide lockdown to contain the quickly rising coronavirus infections in the country. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner)
Thousands gathered in Vienna (Picture: AP)
People burn bengalos as they take part in a demonstration against the country's coronavirus restrictions in Vienna, Austria, Saturday, Nov.20, 2021. Thousands of protesters are expected to gather in Vienna after the Austrian government announced a nationwide lockdown to contain the quickly rising coronavirus infections in the country. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner)
People burn bengalos as they take part in a demonstration against the country’s coronavirus restrictions (Picture: AP)
CORRECTS DATE - A man takes part in a demonstration against the country's coronavirus restrictions in Vienna, Austria, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. Thousands of protesters are expected to gather in Vienna after the Austrian government announced a nationwide lockdown to contain the quickly rising coronavirus infections in the country. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner)
One sign read ‘No Covid vaccine’ (Picture: AP)

Protesters launched rocks and fireworks at officers and torched police cars, while Dutch police retaliated by shooting and wounding at least two people.

The following night, thousands gathered peacefully on Amsterdam’s central Dam Square despite organisers calling off the protest, while hundreds also marched through the southern city of Breda.

Austria has begun a fresh lockdown akin to Britain’s spring 2020 ‘stay at home’ measures, which could last up to 20 days from Monday after daily deaths tripled over recent weeks.

The government has also said coronavirus jabs will be made mandatory from February 1, as only 66% of the population have been vaccinated so far.

Around 35,000 demonstrators, many from far-right groups, marched through Vienna on Saturday bearing fire-lit torches and ‘my body, my choice’ banners to express their anger, while others burned face coverings.

epa09592756 Hundreds of people gather during a protest against the 2G policy in Coolsingel, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 19 November 2021. Hundreds of demonstrators have gathered to protest against the tightened coronavirus measures. EPA/Killian Lindenburg
Hundreds of people gather during a protest against the 2G policy in Coolsingel, Rotterdam (Picture: EPA)
epa09592757 A scooter set on fire during a protest against the 2G policy in Coolsingel, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 19 November 2021. Hundreds of demonstrators have gathered to protest against the tightened coronavirus measures. EPA/Killian Lindenburg
A scooter set on fire during the protest (Picture: EPA)
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Hollandse Hoogte/REX/Shutterstock (12610694r) Protest against the corona measures in the center of Rotterdam gets completely out of hand. Shots have been fired, at least 1 person has been shot and the city center has been demolished. The police struggled to get it under control. Anti-lockdown demonstration on Coolsingel Street, Rotterdam, The Netherlands - 19 Nov 2021
A burned out car following the demonstration (Picture: Hollandse Hoogte/Rex/Shutterstock)
A person holds a sign during demonstrations against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) measures in Amsterdam, Netherlands, November 20, 2021. REUTERS/Eva Plevier
A person holds a sign during demonstrations in Amsterdam (Picture: Reuters)

Around 1,300 police were on duty as protesters launched fireworks and bottles at officers who retaliated with pepper spray to disperse the crowds.

Police said several protesters were detained, but did not give exact numbers.

Coronavirus cases have also rocketed in Switzerland, where around 65% of the population are now fully vaccinated, according to the country’s Federal Office for Public Health.

The nation is also holding a vote on November 28 over the use of the Swiss Covid certificate, which could be made mandatory for entry to certain public places based on vaccination status or proof of a negative coronavirus test.

On Saturday, thousands flooded the streets of Zurich and Lausanne to protest against policies including the certificate.

Previous protests in the Swiss capital, Bern, have turned violent, but police said the weekend’s demonstrations were peaceful.

Anti-vaccine sentiment is perhaps the strongest in Croatia, where only around 48.4% of the public have received a coronavirus jab, and infections have risen steeply in recent weeks.

Although the country is not in lockdown, masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces, and in outdoor places where the 1.5-metre social distancing guidelines cannot be followed.

Cafes, clubs and restaurants are also subject to curfews and capacity rules, and indoor gatherings of more than 50 people are only open to those with the EU digital Covid certificate.

On Saturday, thousands of people gathered in the capital Zagreb carrying Croatian flags, nationalist and religious symbols, along with banners against vaccination and what they describe as restrictions of people’s freedoms.

Protesters also gathered in Milan and Rome on Saturday evening in response to the imposition of a health pass which must be shown to enter public spaces including the workplace, restaurants, football matches and other public events.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.









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