Thousands of demonstrators were expected to rally in Vienna on Saturday after the Austrian government declared a statewide lockdown to combat the country’s rapidly spreading coronavirus illnesses.
The Freedom Party, a far-right opposition party, is among those who have called for the protest and promised to fight the new limitations.
Other European countries, such as Switzerland, Croatia, and Italy, are likely to hold anti-virus demonstrations.
In violence that erupted in downtown Rotterdam surrounding a demonstration against COVID-19 limitations on Friday night, Dutch police opened fire on protestors, injuring seven people.
The Austrian lockdown will begin on Monday morning and will run for 10 days before being reevaluated. It will last at most 20 days. The majority of businesses will close, while cultural events will be postponed. People will only be able to leave their houses for particular reasons, such as shopping, visiting the doctor, or exercising.
The Austrian government recently announced that vaccines will be mandatory beginning February 1.
Vaccination rates in Austria have reached one of the lowest levels in Western Europe, and hospitals in the worst-affected areas have warned that their intensive care units are at capacity. In recent weeks, the average daily death rate has tripled.
According to government statistics, only about 66 percent of Austria’s 8.9 million inhabitants are properly vaccinated.
On Friday night, Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg apologised to all vaccinated people, saying it wasn’t right that they had to suffer under the extended lockdown restrictions after doing everything they could to help contain the illness.
“I’m sorry for taking such a severe action,” he said on ORF, the German public broadcaster.
The measures have been dubbed “dictatorship” by Freedom Party leader Herbert Kickl, who stated earlier this week that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Kickl will be unable to attend the Vienna demonstration since he must self-isolate for 14 days.
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