22 Mar 2021: Amid rising coronavirus cases, anti-lockdown protests hit Europe
Protesters in several parts of Europe clashed with police and raised their voices against lockdown, over the weekend, amid rising coronavirus cases in the continent.
In Germany, police officers were forced to use water cannons, pepper spray, and batons as protesters tried to knock off barriers on Saturday.
Demonstrations were also reported from countries like Austria, the UK, Finland, Romania, and Switzerland.
What happened: Over 20,000 people participated in Germany's protest, several were detained
Reportedly, over 20,000 people participated in a massive agitation in Kassel, central Germany. They had violent altercations with the cops and even attacked journalists.
Defying a court order, the protesters marched through downtown Kassel. The protesters didn't follow coronavirus-related precautions either — most of them didn't wear masks.
Later, police said several people were detained but the actual number is not known.
Statement: On Friday, Merkel had spoken about reversing the relaxations
The situation in capital Berlin was also tense. Nearly 1,800 police officers remained on standby, anticipating riots. However, only 500 protesters had turned up at the iconic Brandenburg Gate.
On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had indicated that her administration will have to reverse the relaxations as coronavirus cases have been surging.
Germany added 16,033 fresh cases to its tally on Saturday, reports AP.
Vaccination: By Friday, less than 10% Germans had received first shot
Germany, which was hailed for how it handled the health crisis in the beginning, seems to have lost its path.
Amid fear of a more contagious variant of the virus, experts have batted for ramping up the vaccination drive. However, till Friday, merely 8.5% of the population had been administered the first dose.
The country lags far behind the US and the UK.
Britain: Anti-lockdown protests rocked Britain as well
Meanwhile, the anti-lockdown protesters took to the streets in Britain as well.
As per reports, thousands marched in London carrying placards that read, "Fear Westmonster, Not the Virus," and "Stop Destroying Our Kids' Lives."
In Hyde Park, cops took refuge in their vans as protesters hurled cans and bottles at them.
The London Metropolitan Police informed that 36 people were arrested.
Protests: Finnish protesters held placards reading, 'Let the people speak!'
Separately, in Finland's capital Helsinki, police said nearly 400 people, who didn't wear masks, had gathered to protest against the government-imposed restrictions.
Before this rally, hundreds of others marched to the Parliament Building. Placards reading "Let the people speak!" and "Facts and numbers don't add up" were spotted.
In Austria, nearly 1,000 people participated in a protest near Vienna's central train station.