Across Europe Protests Multiply Against Coronavirus Restrictions | Seattle weather
BRUSSELS – Protests against coronavirus restrictions have erupted across Europe – including clashes in Rotterdam and massive rallies in Vienna – as authorities announced tougher measures to try to control the increase in cases before the winter holidays.
At least seven people were injured and more than 50 arrested after protests in Rotterdam turned violent on Friday evening, with protesters throwing stones and police firing, Dutch police said. Protesters denounced a bill that would ban unvaccinated people from entering businesses even if they test negative. They also protested a partial lockdown that went into effect last week and will last until at least December 4, forcing restaurants and other establishments to close at 8 p.m.
In Vienna, tens of thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday after the country’s decision to impose vaccines for everyone from February and to impose new blocks from Monday.
In Italy, the weekly protests against the coronavirus have shown no signs of slowing down, with protests in Rome, notably on the former grounds of the Circus Maximus. On social media, users posted videos of protests in other countries, including France and Switzerland.
Ferd Grapperhaus, the Dutch Minister for Security and Justice, called for a “vigorous debate” on pandemic measures, but said “harassment and violence have no place”.
Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb called the clashes an “orgy of violence” and said “the police felt it necessary to draw their weapons in order to defend themselves”.
A policeman was hospitalized with a leg injury and two protesters were shot. Officials are investigating whether they have been affected by police gunfire, according to the Associated Press.
Europe is the only region in the world where the number of coronavirus deaths is on the rise, jumping 5% since the start of the month, according to the World Health Organization. In response, authorities are tightening rules for people who are not vaccinated.
In Berlin, for example, only those who are vaccinated or who have recovered from the virus can now enter bars and restaurants. Greece has reimposed some restrictions on unvaccinated people, the AP reported. Belgium required people to work from home at least four days a week.
The European Union is relying on digital COVID security certificates to allow people to travel between EU countries without quarantine and – in many places – to enter restaurants and other sites. The certificate indicates whether a person is vaccinated, has recently tested negative for the virus, or has already recovered from the virus. The European Commission said on Friday that the bloc of 27 countries had so far issued 660 million certificates.
“The issuance of COVID certificates is a very important tool to ensure safe and free movement in the European Union and also a very effective tool,” spokesman Christian Wigand told reporters on Friday.