Mar 21, 2021 - World

Protests erupt across Europe over COVID-19 restrictions

A protestor in Dublin.
A protestor in Dublin. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Several European cities saw anti-lockdown protests on Saturday, with some leading to clashes between demonstrators and police.

Why it matters: As case numbers and variants in Europe surge, the vaccine rollout has been sluggish and countries have gone back into lockdown. The protests are part of the rising frustration with COVID-19 restrictions on the continent.

Details: Around 20,000 people filled the streets of the German city of Kassel to protest the lockdown, Deutsche Welle reports.

  • Several protestors attacked members of the security forces, which then deployed water cannons and pepper spray against the crowd.
  • In Berlin, 500 demonstrators came out, though they were ultimately outnumbered by police.
  • The demonstrations come after Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that Germany would have pull an "emergency brake" on easing restrictions, AP reports.

Thousands of protestors also turned out in London on Saturday to protest the months-long lockdown, the same day as Members of Parliament called for lifting the restriction on those demonstrating, NPR reports. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, it is illegal to gather to protest.

  • Demonstrators clashed with police, with Scotland Yard ultimately reporting 36 arrests, most for breaches of COVID-19 safety restrictions, per The Independent.

Smaller protests also took place in other parts of Europe. In Helsinki, 400 maskless people demonstrated against the imposed restrictions, according to France 24.

  • In Vienna, approximately 1,000 protestors gathered near the city's central train station to protest. Several were reprimanded by the police for not wearing masks and not maintaining social distancing.

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