Thousands of European citizens have protested across the EU against COVID-19 passports, which are becoming mandatory to access indoor areas, including work and university in more and more Member States, amid a spike up in the number of Coronavirus cases in the old continent.
Data by the World Health Organization (WHO) show that in the past seven days, Austria has recorded 1,079.5 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population, while Belgium has recorded 613 cases, Germany 400.9, and the Netherlands 797.
Europe’s average number of cases in the past seven days for 100,000 residents is 255.9, while the global rate is 46.3.
Protesters Call Austria’s Lockdown Unnecessary
In a bid to prevent the number of cases from further spiking up, the countries mentioned above and more other members of the European Union have made the COVID-19 vaccination and recovery passports mandatory for accessing places like work, universities, shopping centres, restaurants, bars, etc.
Moreover, starting from today, November 22, Austria has gone into full lockdown, which may last for a period of 20 days, up until December 13. Until then, all non-essential activities, including travel to the country, have been halted.
Days before the Austrian authorities announced the lockdown, the country cut down on the validity period of vaccination certificates from 12 to nine months. At the same time, Austria ruled that entry into public indoor areas would no longer be possible with an antigen test but instead only with a vaccination, recovery or PCR test certificate.
Tens of thousands of Austrian citizens gathered in Vienna, the majority of them without masks, expressing rage against the lockdown. Some of them, vaccinated, told BBC that the lockdown would hurt smaller businesses in particular.
Their pleas have, however, gone unheard after the country went into a full lockdown in the early hours of today, which is Austria’s fourth lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic.
Violent Clashes in the Netherlands
While the majority of protests in Europe against COVID-19 passes and restrictions have been peaceful, the case is not the same with the Netherlands.
For three nights in a row, protesters have clashed with the police, fired fireworks, and caused material damage in several Dutch cities. The violence has forced police to make 145 arrests throughout the weekend.
The protests erupted after the government announced confinement measures, among others, making face masks mandatory in areas or venues where a Coronavirus entry pass is not required.
Commenting on the violent protests, the Dutch Primer Mark Rutte has called protesters “idiots”, calling their acts “a pure explosion of violence directed against our police, against our firefighters, against ambulance drivers”.
Italians Protest Against Green Pass Requirement at Workplaces, Restaurants, Gyms…
Italians were a bit more creative with the organization of the protests in the last days, as over three thousand protesters gathered at Rome’s Circus Maximus is an ancient Roman chariot-racing stadium and mass entertainment venue, against the Green Pass requirement.
The Green Pass has been mandatory in Italy since September 1 to have access to all the following:
- Long-distance trips by air, train, ship, ferry or coach
- Indoor restaurants, bars, ice cream, and pastry shops
- Sporting events, both outdoors and indoors
- Museums, cinemas, theatres, festivals
- Swimming pools and gyms
- Private parties
- Conventions and congresses
- Spas and fitness centres
- Gaming halls and betting shops, bingo halls and casinos
More Protests in Belgium, Germany, Croatia
Belgium hasn’t been spared by protests either, which in several cases escalated into violence. Police responded to the violence with tear gas and water cannons until protesters left.
The country has only recently imposed a face mask mandate, even in places where a COVID-19 pass is required. At the same time, the majority of the country’s workers will have to work from home four days a week until December 15.
Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, also experienced its protests against the new obligation for public sector workers to be vaccinated.
In Germany, in the early hours of Sunday, two test centres were sent in fire at the towns of Ahaus and Gronau, near the Dutch border, causing damages worth €20,000, according to DW. The country is also facing increasing anger regarding restrictions in the country.