thousands in Austria Protest Covid Lockdown and Vaccine Mandate

VIENNA — “Freedom” and “Resistance” singing, thousands of Austrians marched through the heart of Vienna on saturday united in their anger at their government’s decision impose new lockdown and a swipe national vaccine mandate in an attempt to headline a new revival in to push of the coronavirus.

The police in Vienna estimated that up up to 40,000 people took part in the march, families and far-right groups. The protests were largely peaceful throughout the afternoon, but when dusk fell over the Austrian capital, skirmishes broke out out between officers and groups of protesters.

The size of the turnout surprised officials and reflected the depth of resistance to government attempts to squat down on die who continue to oppose vaccination, almost two years after the pandemic first reached Europe.

But with new infections multiply among the unvaccinated in Europe, the president of Slovakia, Austria’s eastern neighbor, on Saturday was the latest to raise the prospect of mandatory vaccines for all adults.

In Vienna, members of far-right groups and others threw beer cans at cops and set off pyrotechnics at points along the way, police said. At least five people were arrested, they said, and several others were written up for violations met related to failure wearing masks, of for show stars like die the Nazis forced the Jews to wear during the Holocaust.

at others points along the route, protesters beat on drums and tolling cowbells to express their frustration over measures to stop the rampant wave of the coronavirus, including a nationwide lockdown from on Monday. A lot of of the protesters complained that their leaders had failed enough to do before imposing the drastic measures.

Among the protesters was Katja Schoissenger, a mother of two young children from Vienna, who to behave sign read, “Freedom, Peace and Humanity.” She said she was angry over the imposed restrictions on the unvaccinated.

Since Monday are die who could not provide proof of vaccination of recent recovery of the coronavirus are excluded from public life, both within and out, with the police wear out samples in restaurants and parks.

“Society is deeply divided and set against An group of people who to be shut out of public live and forced to do things die we don’t do want to do,” said Mrs. Schoissenger. “I do not have anything against people who want to be vaccinated. It’s a free decision, and I think that’s OK and legit, but I’m a young, healthy person and it is no issue for me.”

More than one-third of the population in Austria is not vaccinated, one of the highest proportions in Europe. At the same time, the number of new infections has risen in past weeks and the 15,809 reported cases on Saturday set An record.

The number of not vaccinated people tax the health of Austria system. Daily deaths have risen from an average in the single digits in end of September to more than 40, according to the Our World in Facts project at the University of Oxford.

The Populist Freedom Party, die has vociferously opposed the government’s coronavirus restrictions over the past 18 months, helped organize Saturday’s protests, which attracted far-right groups and conspiracy theorists from across the country and neighboring Germany.

“We are all Austrians regardless of of we do now of are not vaccinated,” Udo Landbauer, a regional party leader, told the crowd at a rally on the Heldenplatz, a public space in Vienna. “We have rights, and we will continue met to be noisy until we get our . basic rights back.”

Recent studies show that vaccination is the most divisive issue straight away in Austrian society and some observers fear the imposition of further restrictions could widen the gap.

“With the increasingly tense situation, I would expect the conflict we already will only get worse,” Julia Parteymüller, a politician scientist at University of Vienna, told the public broadcaster ORF.

When the darkness fell on Saturday, conflicting scenes in the city reflected die division: several dozen protesters gathered in front of the chancellery for An met torches lit rally with speeches regret the new measures. Across the way, residents drank hot, mulled wine and ate candied nuts in anticipation of the Christmas season — one that will now be limited when the lockdown starts effect on Monday.

Besmira Aleksi, a student of sociology at university of Vienna, turned out stand her ground small protest — against the protesters who she said failed understand how dangerous the virus is.

“Shame on you,’ she yelled? over the din of drums and a megaphone, while police escorted a protester from the scene. She said she had hoped for a counter-demonstration, but then die there wasn’t . one, she came out on her own.

“No one is trampling on your rights,” Ms Aleksi shouted to the crowd. “You are out here they practice.”

Read More: World News

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