The Hague: Europeans are staging protests against new Covid-19 restrictions intended to stem an upsurge in the pandemic, with violence flaring overnight in the Netherlands.
In Austria and Italy, people upset with renewed constraints marched to show their opposition. More protests were planned elsewhere in Europe.
Protests in Rotterdam against new Dutch Covid-19 restrictions turned violent recently, and police said they arrested 51 people, fired warning shots and used water cannons to control rioters who pelted officers with rocks, burned cars, and set off powerful fireworks
Dutch police said more arrests were likely after police from around the country were dispatched to the port city.
Last week, live-streamed images on the website of Austria’s populist Freedom Party showed crowds of protesters near the federal chancellery and the residence of President Alexander Van der Bellen, and on downtown streets. Most of the demonstrators appeared to be unmasked. Some carried signs or banners with slogans such as “lies have short legs”.
The Vienna protests, which police said included around 35,000 participants, were largely peaceful. Police said that about a dozen people were arrested after incidents involving rocks and bottles thrown at police and smoke bombs, such as the ones used at soccer stadiums.
Some protesters chanted anti-vaccination, and anti-government slogans and others carried placards with messages such as “Vaccine coercion—no thanks!” and “This is how it started in 1938,” in reference to the Nazi takeover of Austria.
Austria’s government announced an anti-Covid lockdown that will restrict most people to their homes for up to 20 days starting Nov 22. Shops, bars, and businesses such as hairdressers were overwhelmed in anticipation of the lockdown that will see all nonessential businesses shuttered.
In Italy, where protests have taken place on weekends for several weeks, demonstrations were expected in Rome and Milan. Since last month, Italy has required all employees to possess a so-called Green Pass, demonstrating that they have received a Covid-19 vaccine, tested negative or recovered from the virus.
Most of Europe is experiencing a resurgence of coronavirus infections, though Southern European countries have seen cases rise too, but from a lower base. (The Wall Street Journal)