Protesters clashed with police in Germany and Croatia and some took to the streets in Switzerland on Saturday as new lockdowns were introduced in France, Poland and Ukraine to battle a third wave of coronavirus.
Demonstrators took to the streets in the central German city of Kassel and were pictured engaging with lines of riot police.
Several groups, most of them far-right opponents of government’s regulations to fight the pandemic, had called for protests Saturday in cities across the country.
In Berlin, some 1,800 police officers were on standby for possible riots, but only a few dozen protesters assembled at the city’s landmark Brandenburg Gate.
In Switzerland, thousands of demonstrators descended on the small northern Swiss town of Liestal to demand an end to anti-Covid measures that have shut restaurants and other venues for months.
In Zagreb, the Croatian capital, protesters also gathered to rail against coronavirus.
Meanwhile, in Paris, images showed eerily quiet streets as non-essential shops in the city were closed from Saturday for at least a month to try to grapple with rising infection rates.
In total, a third of France’s population woke up to new restrictions.
In Poland most shops will be shut for the next three weeks along with hotels and cinemas, with similar measures introduced in Ukraine’s capital Kiev.
Protesters clashed with police in Germany and Croatia on Saturday as new lockdowns were introduced in France, Poland and Ukraine to battle a third wave of coronavirus. Pictured: Demonstrators clash with police in Kassel, central Germany
Several groups, most of them far-right opponents of government’s regulations to fight the pandemic, had called for protests Saturday in cities across the country. Pictured: A protester engages with police
Parisians packed trains leaving the capital and crammed into shops ahead of the new partial lockdown.
The mayor of Yerres, just outside the capital, told AFP he had told businesses there to remain open, defying the ‘totally incomprehensible’ restrictions.
‘Why would we catch Covid more in a shoe store than a bookshop?’ he asked.
Bookshops are considered essential under the new measures, along with florists, chocolate shops and cobblers.
The pandemic is still speeding up worldwide, with the number of new Covid-19 infections rising globally by 14 percent over the past week, according to data.
In Brazil, Rio de Janeiro’s famed beaches have been closed as the city’s mayor warned of a ‘very critical’ situation, with 95 percent of intensive care units occupied at public hospitals.
Meanwhile, in Paris, images showed eerily quiet streets as non-essential shops in the city were closed from Saturday for at least a month to try to grapple with rising infection rates
In Berlin, some 1,800 police officers were on standby for possible riots, but only a few dozen protesters assembled at the city’s landmark Brandenburg Gate. Pictured: Police detaining a man in berlin on Saturday
Demonstrators clash with police during a protest against the government’s coronavirus disease restrictions in Kassel
Protestors hold up a banner reading ‘Enough is enough – let’s take back our lives’ in Kassel
President Jair Bolsonaro, who has railed against stay-at-home measures and face masks, criticised the measure.
‘Vitamin D is a way to prevent the virus from seriously affecting you. And where do you get vitamin D? From the sun. Such hypocrisy,’ said the far-right leader.
The row over AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine meanwhile shows no signs of abating, with EU chief Ursula von der Leyen threatening to halt exports of the jab if the bloc does not receive its deliveries first.
Von der Leyen said Anglo-Swedish pharma giant AstraZeneca had delivered only 30 percent of the 90 million vaccine doses it had promised for the first quarter of the year.
The company has blamed production delays at its EU plants, but European officials are furious that AstraZeneca has been able to deliver its UK contract in full while falling short on the continent.
‘We have the option of banning a planned export. That’s the message to AstraZeneca: you fulfil your contract with Europe first before you start delivering to other countries,’ von der Leyen told Germany’s Funke media group.
A woman shouts as she protests in Kassel against ongoing lockdown measures
Several European countries including Germany and Italy resumed AstraZeneca vaccinations Friday after following an all-clear from EU regulators and the WHO. Pictured: Protesters in Kassel
Protesters in Zagreb, Croatia, attend the ‘World Wide Day of Freedom and Democracy’ protest against restrictions put in place by government to tackle the coronavirus disease
The AstraZeneca shortfall has complicated an already stuttering vaccine rollout in Europe, but the drug-maker has also had to contend with safety concerns.
Worries that the AstraZeneca jab may cause blood clots had seen more than a dozen countries pause its use recently.
Several European countries including Germany and Italy resumed AstraZeneca vaccinations Friday after following an all-clear from EU regulators and the WHO.
France also brought the jab back into use – but just hours later, the national health regulator recommended it be given only to the over-55s, given the reported blood clots were only seen in younger people.
Scandinavian nations Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland have all said they want more information before deploying the vaccine again.
People clash with police officers as they protest against ongoing lockdown measures in Kassel
Police officers detain a demonstrator during a rally in Berlin against the German government’s restrictions
Police detaines a right-wing protester during a rally in Berlin, Germany. Some 1,800 police forces were deployed to face a rally by far-right wing and so-called ‘Reich Citizens’ demonstrators
Demonstrators protest against the government’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in Kassel
World Health Organization vaccine safety experts said ‘available data do not suggest any overall increase in clotting conditions’ among vaccinated people.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his French counterpart Jean Castex both received a dose of AstraZeneca on Friday.
‘I literally did not feel a thing. It was very good, very quick,’ said Mr Johnson, who became seriously ill from Covid-19 last year.
In Pakistan meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan tested positive for Covid-19 two days after receiving China’s Sinopharm vaccine.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi committed to get the AstraZeneca vaccine soon.
With more than 400 million vaccine doses already injected globally as inoculation campaigns gain pace, organisers of the Tokyo Olympics have been hoping this summer’s pandemic-delayed Games could provide ‘proof of humanity’s triumph over the virus’.
But organisers meeting Saturday said they will bar overseas fans from the Games, meaning there will be little of the international party atmosphere that usually characterises the Olympics.
Signs of lockdown weariness have abounded in cities across the world, with protests against restrictions popping up in Vienna, Sofia and Montreal on Friday.
Some 20,000 people were expected at a demonstration in the German city of Kassel on Saturday, raising fears it could turn into a superspreader event.
In total, a third of France’s population woke up to new restrictions. Pictured: Citizens in Paris on Saturday
Parisians packed trains leaving the capital and crammed into shops ahead of the new partial lockdown
Today’s protests come after government scientists warned that a surge in Covid cases across Europe could see summer holidays cancelled if a third wave spreads to Britain.
Outbreaks of the South African variant in countries throughout the continent is causing particular concern, sparking calls for tougher travel restrictions.
As a result, some experts fear European getaways in May, and potentially in the subsequent months, much anticipated by millions of Britons, are now a doubt.
While Britain’s vaccination roll-out has been a huge success, with a record 660,276 jabs administered on Friday amid falling cases and deaths, the picture on the continent looks different.
The EU has overseen a shambolic vaccine distribution programme and the number of positive tests is on the up in countries such as France, Spain, Germany and Italy.
The worry for British experts is that such scenes earlier in the pandemic have often foreshadowed a similar scenario in the UK.
A government source told the Times: ‘It’s a fact that when waves one and two hit Europe they hit us afterwards.’