Thousands of European citizens have protested across the European Union against COVID-19 passports, which have become mandatory to access inland areas, including work and university, in more and more member states, amid a rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the old continent.
Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that in the past seven days, Austria recorded 1079.5 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population, while Belgium recorded 613 cases, Germany 400.9, and the Netherlands 797.
The average number of cases in Europe in the past seven days for 100,000 residents was 255.9, while the global average is 46.3.
Protesters call Austria’s lockdown unnecessary
In an effort to prevent an increase in the number of cases, the above-mentioned countries and more other members of the European Union have made vaccination and recovery passports for COVID-19 mandatory to access places like work, universities, shopping malls, restaurants, bars, etc.
Moreover, starting today, November 22, Austria has entered a complete lockdown, which may last for 20 days, until December 13. Until then, all non-essential activities, including travel to the country, have been halted.
Days before Austrian authorities announced the lockdown, the country reduced the validity period of vaccination certificates from 12 to nine months. At the same time, Austria ruled that entry into public enclosed spaces is no longer possible through an antigen test but instead only by obtaining a vaccination, recovery or PCR test certificate.
Tens of thousands of Austrian citizens gathered in Vienna, mostly without masks, to express their anger over the lockdown. Some, after being vaccinated, told the BBC that the closure would hurt small businesses in particular.
However, no one heard their pleas after the country went into complete lockdown in the early hours of the day, the fourth lockdown for Austria since the start of the pandemic.
Violent clashes in the Netherlands
While the majority of protests in Europe against COVID-19 permits and restrictions have been peaceful, the issue is not the same with the Netherlands.
For three consecutive nights, protesters clashed with police, set off fireworks, and caused material damage to several Dutch cities. The violence forced police to make 145 arrests over the weekend.
The protests erupted after the government announced confinement measures, among other things, making face masks mandatory in areas or places where a coronavirus entry permit is not required.
Commenting on the violent protests, Dutch priest Mark Rutte called the protesters “idiots”, describing their actions as “a sheer outburst of violence directed against our police, against our firefighters, and against ambulance drivers”.
Italians protest green traffic requirements in workplaces, restaurants and gyms…
Italians have been more creative in organizing protests in the past days, with more than 3,000 protesters gathering at Rome’s Circus Maximus, an ancient Roman chariot-racing stadium and venue for mass entertainment, contrary to the requirements of the Green Passage.
The Green Corridor has been mandatory in Italy since September 1st to access all of the following:
Long trips by air, train, ship, ferry or bus Indoor restaurants, bars, ice cream and pastry shops Sporting events, both outdoors and indoors Museums, cinemas, theaters, festivals, swimming pools and gyms. Fitness centers Game halls, betting shops, bingo halls and casinos
>> The Italian green corridor may not be mandatory in 2022, the health minister reveals
More protests in Belgium, Germany and Croatia
Belgium was also not spared the protests, which in many cases escalated into violence. Police responded to violence with tear gas and water cannons until the protesters left.
The state only recently imposed a mandate for face masks, even in places that require a permit for COVID-19. At the same time, the majority of the country’s workers will have to work from home four days a week until December 15.
The Croatian capital, Zagreb, has also seen its protests against the new obligation to vaccinate public sector workers.
In the early hours of Sunday in Germany, two testing centers in the towns of Ahaus and Gronau, near the Dutch border, caught fire, causing damage worth 20,000 euros, according to DW. The country is also facing growing anger over the restrictions imposed on it.