December 4, 2021
VIENNA (Reuters) – Thousands of people marched through Vienna on Saturday to protest against restrictions on public life designed to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
Faced with surging daily infections, the government last month made Austria the first country in Western Europe to reimpose a lockdown and said it would make vaccinations mandatory from February.
People carried signs saying: “I will decide myself”, “Make Austria Great Again” and “New Elections” – a nod to the political turmoil that has seen three chancellors within two months – as crowds gathered.
Around 1,200 police officers deployed to handle scattered protests that were supposed to merge into a march on the Ring boulevard in central Vienna. Police said they would remind marchers to wear masks and charge people who do not.
A parliamentary committee this week approved doubling the length of the lockdown to 20 days, which the government has said is the longest it will last.
Austria, a country of 8.9 million people, has reported https://covid19-dashboard.ages.at/?l=en nearly 1.2 million coronavirus cases and more than 12,000 COVID-19 linked deaths since the pandemic began last year.
New cases have been falling since the lockdown – which makes exceptions for protests – began.
(Reporting by Francois Murphy and Lisi Niesner; Writing by Michael Shields; Editing by Alex Richardson)