Thousands rally against Covid curbs in Austria, Australia

Published November 21, 2021
VIENNA: Demonstrators pass by the State Opera during a rally held on Saturday by Austria’s far-right Freedom Party against measures taken to curb the coronavirus pandemic.—AFP
VIENNA: Demonstrators pass by the State Opera during a rally held on Saturday by Austria’s far-right Freedom Party against measures taken to curb the coronavirus pandemic.—AFP

VIENNA: Thousands took to the streets in Austria and Australia on Saturday as anger mounted over new Covid restrictions imposed to tackle a resurgent pandemic, sparking overnight riots in a Dutch city and a French island.

Europe is battling a fresh wave of infections and several countries have tightened curbs, with Austria on Friday announcing a national partial lockdown — the most dramatic restrictions in Western Europe for months.

Other nations on the continent have resorted to less severe restrictions, often choosing to ban unvaccinated people from venues like restaurants and bars.

Some 10,000 people marched in Sydney and there were protests in other major Australian cities against vaccine mandates, which are not universal and have only been applied to certain occupations by state authorities.

“In Australia where a fanatical cult runs our health bureaucracies, they say it’s ok (to vaccinate children),” right-wing politician Craig Kelly told the Sydney crowd to large cheers.

Violence marred protests on Friday in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam where police fired warning shots as protesters set fires. Two people were hospitalised with bullet wounds.

There was also arson and looting overnight in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe where a night curfew has been imposed.

Thousands gathered on Saturday in central Vienna near the Chancellery, responding to a call by the far right FPO party, to denounce the new measures.

They held up banners decrying “Corona dictatorship” and slamming the “division of society”.

“It’s not normal that the government deprives us of our rights,” said 42-year-old Katarina Gierscher, who travelled for six hours to get to the rally.

“The government wants to divide us. We must remain united.”

From Monday, 8.9 million Austrians will not be allowed to leave home except to go to work, shop for essentials and exercise. The restrictions will initially last 20 days with an evaluation after 10 days.

Vaccination against Covid-19 in the Alpine nation will be mandatory from February 1 next year.

Organisers cancelled a Dutch protest on Saturday but a few hundred people still gathered in Amsterdam and a similar number marched through the southern city of Breda.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

A call for bloodshed
30 Nov, 2022

A call for bloodshed

The state has wasted precious time by not consolidating its success in pushing TTP out of its strongholds in the north.
Missing childhoods
30 Nov, 2022

Missing childhoods

THE fact is that despite some legal efforts to end the curse of child marriage taking place in Pakistan under the...
Unemployment concerns
30 Nov, 2022

Unemployment concerns

THE ILO finding that labour market recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Pakistan, as in many other...
Back to politics
Updated 29 Nov, 2022

Back to politics

PDM and PTI must realise that neither will get what they want if they keep fighting bitterly at every turn.
Election delay
29 Nov, 2022

Election delay

OF recent, leaders from the ruling PML-N have been dropping hints about a possible delay in general elections after...
Sugar woes
29 Nov, 2022

Sugar woes

IT’S that time of year again when cane growers get anxious over the delay in the commencement of the new sugar...