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Austria: protests in Vienna against containment and compulsory vaccination from February 1


Tens of thousands of people, including many supporters of the extreme right, demonstrated this Saturday, November 20 in Vienna to protest against the establishment of national containment and the vaccination obligation announced by the Austrian government, a first in Europe.

Protesters flocked to Heroes’ Square in the early afternoon in front of the Hofburg, the former imperial palace in central Vienna. Many demonstrators carried Austrian flags and placards bearing slogans such as “no to vaccination”, “enough is enough” or “down with the fascist dictatorship”. The crowd reached about 35,000 people by midday, police said.

A police spokesperson said there had been a dozen arrests, for violations of pandemic restrictions and the use of Nazi symbols.

66% of the population fully vaccinated

About 66% of the Austrian population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, one of the lowest rates in Western Europe, which is partly explained by a rejection of vaccination defended by the Freedom Party (FPÖ, far right), the third in Parliament by the number of elected representatives.

The number of daily contaminations continues to increase to reach new records, despite the imposition of confinement for the unvaccinated at the beginning of the week. Austria announced Friday the establishment of national containment from Monday and make vaccination compulsory from February 1.

The Freedom Party and other vaccine-critical groups had already planned a demonstration for this Saturday in Vienna, even before the government’s announcements. The president of the FPÖ, Herbert Kickl, positive for COVID-19, was absent from the procession.