Austria last month became the first country in Western Europe to re-impose a lockdown, which is expected to last 20 days, and said it would make vaccinations mandatory from February.
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Some of the more than 40,000 demonstrators in Vienna carried signs reading: “I will decide for myself”, “Make Austria great again” and “New elections” – a nod to the political turmoil that has saw three chancellors in two months.
About 1,200 police officers were deployed for the march on the central Ring Boulevard and a counter-demonstration of 1,500 people, both authorized under Austria’s lockdown.
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In the city of Utrecht, in central Netherlands, several thousand people demonstrated against the restrictions that began last weekend.
Protesters carried banners with the inscription “Medical Freedom Now!” »In the presence of a large contingent of police officers.
It was the first major protest in the Netherlands against the measures, which include the night-time shutdown of bars, restaurants and most shops to stem a wave of COVID-19 cases that threaten to overwhelm the system. health.
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Two weeks ago, there were violent protests after the Dutch government announced plans to ban most unvaccinated people from bars, restaurants and other public places.
“We are against not having the freedom (to decide what happens to) our own body,” said Utrecht protester Marit van Hunen.
The plans face strong opposition in parliament and have yet to be enacted.
In Germany’s financial capital, Frankfurt, police interrupted a protest of several hundred people for failing to wear masks or maintain social distancing, using batons and pepper spray after being attacked by a group of protesters.
And in Berlin, where a new government is expected to take office in a few days, small groups have gathered to protest after a large demonstration was banned.
German politicians have widely condemned a protest by opponents of coronavirus restrictions that took place on Friday evening outside the home of Petra Koepping, the state health minister of Saxony, which currently has the highest infection rate. high from Germany. Some said it smacked of Nazi-era intimidation.
Reporting by Eva Plevier and Hilde Verweij in the Netherlands, François Murphy and Lisi Niesner in Vienna, Emma Thomasson in Berlin Writing by Kevin Liffey Editing by Frances Kerry
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