Wednesday 12/8/21
UNREST

35,000 protest against new coronavirus measures in Austria

Some protesters threw bottles at the police, according to media reports

20 November 2021, Austria, Vienna: Policemen stand guard as people march down the Heldenplatz during a protest against the upcoming nationwide coronavirus lockdown. Photo: Florian Wieser/APA/dpa.
Policemen stand guard as people march down the Heldenplatz during a protest against the upcoming nationwide lockdown. Photo: Florian Wieser/dpa.

Some 35,000 people took to the streets in Austria on Saturday to protest against the country's new coronavirus restrictions.

Police estimated that around 35,000 people took part in the demonstration in the capital Vienna on Saturday afternoon.

The participants protested the lockdown, which will take effect on Monday, and the legal obligation to get vaccinated, which will take effect in 2022, calling them coercive measures.

The protest brought traffic to a standstill in parts of central Vienna on Saturday afternoon.

Police described the atmosphere as "heated" and said they had made several arrests. Some 1,300 officers were on duty.

Some protesters threw bottles at the police, according to media reports.

"Freedom" was chanted again and again by demonstrators, many of whom didn't wear FFP2 masks, thus breaking the regulations.

Known neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists attended the protests, according to Austrian news agency APA.

Saturday's rallies were widely expected following the announcement of the new lockdown and compulsory coronavirus vaccination.

'Dictatorship'

The far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) called for the demonstrations. Its party leader Herbert Kickl, currently suffering from Covid-19 himself, has claimed Austria is on the way to becoming a "dictatorship." He called for the broadest possible resistance to the measures in a video.

The lockdown which takes effect from Monday is supposed to end for those who have been vaccinated and recovered by December 13 at the latest. For the unvaccinated, restrictions on movement will apply beyond that date.

In addition, the government has announced compulsory vaccination from February 2022.

Shopping centres and city centres were crowded as higher numbers of people took the chance to stock up ahead of the looming restrictions.

Meanwhile officials announced more than 15,000 new cases of Covid-19 within the past 24 hours on Saturday. However, the situation in hospitals was still mostly stable.

So far, some 66% of Austrians have been vaccinated, with uptake rising in recent weeks due to the latest regulations.

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