As Covid-19 and anti-lockdown protests spread across Europe, violence broke out.
As Covid-19 coronavirus infections spread across Europe, thousands of protesters have rallied in several capital cities against new lockdowns and vaccination regulations.
Vaccination rates are much lower in many countries than the UK, and Dr. Andrea Ammon, director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), said that people in some countries feel in part because of a lack of trust in their governments.
She told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that while guidelines such as mandatory vaccination have been put in place in some places to combat this, the introduction of stricter measures could act as a “double-edged sword” by provoking further opposition.
This effect could already be observed in several countries over the weekend, from violence in Vienna to mandatory vaccines to riots in Rotterdam against a new impending lockdown.
Rotterdam’s Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb condemned “an orgy of violence” during the demonstrations on Friday, in which seven people were injured and more than 20 were arrested.
Hundreds of rioters filled the capital to protest against a new three-week partial lockdown, plans to introduce a Covid vaccine passport and a ban on New Year’s Eve fireworks.
Protesters fired stones and fireworks at officers and set fire to police cars, while Dutch police shot and injured at least two people in retaliation.
The following night, thousands gathered peacefully in Amsterdam’s central Dam Square, although organizers canceled the protest, while hundreds also marched through the southern city of Breda.
After the daily deaths had tripled in the past few weeks, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced a new lockdown, similar to the British “stay at home” measures in spring 2020, which could last up to 20 days from Monday.
The government has also announced that coronavirus vaccinations will become mandatory from February 1, as only 66% of the population have been vaccinated so far.
Around 35,000 demonstrators, many from right-wing extremist groups, marched through Vienna on Saturday with burning torches and “My body, my choice” banners to express their anger, while others burned their face coverings.
Around 1,300 police officers were on duty as protesters fired fireworks and bottles at officials who retaliated with pepper spray to disperse the crowd.
Police said several protesters had been arrested but did not provide exact numbers.
Coronavirus cases have also skyrocketed in Switzerland, where around 65 percent of the population are now fully vaccinated, according to the country’s Federal Office of Public Health.
On November 28, the nation will also vote on the use of the Swiss Covid Certificate, which could become mandatory for access to certain public places due to vaccination status or evidence of a negative coronavirus test.
On Saturday, thousands flooded the streets of Zurich and Lausanne to protest policies including the certificate.
Earlier protests in the Swiss capital Bern have become violent, but police said the weekend demonstrations were peaceful.
Anti-vaccine sentiment is perhaps strongest in Croatia, where only about 48.4% of the public have received a coronavirus vaccination and infections have risen sharply in recent weeks.
Although the country is not on lockdown, it is mandatory to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces and in outdoor locations where 1.5 meter social distancing guidelines cannot be followed.
Cafes, clubs and restaurants are also subject to curfews and capacity rules, and indoor gatherings with more than 50 people are only open to people with the EU digital Covid certificate.
On Saturday, thousands of people gathered in the capital Zagreb with Croatian flags, nationalist and religious symbols and banners against vaccinations and what they described as restricting people’s freedom.
More stories from where you live can be found at Near you.