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reconfinement in Austria, unrest in the Netherlands … Anger is brewing in Europe

In Europe, once again the epicenter of the Covid-19 epidemic, the number of contaminations is climbing, health restrictions are tightened and frustrations are erupting. Demonstrations have taken place in the Netherlands and Belgium while the French department of Guadeloupe has been experiencing a major social movement for several days. In Austria, officially reconfined, some 40,000 people took to the streets on Saturday to cry out for « dictatorship ».

Tensions in Guadeloupe against the health pass and compulsory vaccination of caregivers, re-containment in Austria, anti-Covid unrest in the Netherlands … Anger is roaring in Europe in the face of health restrictions.

The anti-Covid unrest that has rocked the Netherlands since Friday is an act of « pure violence » on the part of « idiots », Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters on Monday (November 22).

« What we have seen this weekend is pure violence, » he said, adding that he « will never accept that idiots » are violent towards the police « . on the pretext that they are unhappy « because of the sanitary restrictions.

In the Netherlands, unrest erupted on Sunday evening for the third night in a row, with the number of arrests over the three days of protests against anti-Covid measures rising to 145, police and local media said.

« These are pure explosions of violence directed against our police, against our firefighters, against people on board ambulances, it has nothing to do with a demonstration, » said Mark Rutte, quoted by RTL Nieuws. « The police and the judiciary will do everything in their power to hold those behind this to account. »

« A lot of tension in society »

The Netherlands reintroduced partial containment last week to cope with an outbreak of Covid-19 cases, with a series of health restrictions affecting in particular the restaurant sector, which is due to close at 8 p.m.

« I realize that there is a lot of tension in society because we have had to deal with all the misery of the coronavirus for so long, and as a prime minister, as a liberal, I will always fight for demonstrations take place in this country, within the framework of our democracy, of our rule of law « , declared the Dutch Prime Minister.

« But what I will never accept is that idiots use sheer violence against the people who show up on the ground in front of you and me every day to keep the country safe on the pretext that they are unhappy. » , he added.

The unrest started in the Netherlands on Friday, when an « orgy of violence » erupted in Rotterdam, in which four protesters were injured by police gunfire according to the latest estimates.

Five police officers were injured in The Hague on Saturday evening in clashes with protesters, who threw stones, burned bicycles and fired fireworks.

« A real chaos »

In Austria, it is the reconfinement, in force since Monday midnight, which aroused the anger this weekend.

Shops, restaurants, Christmas markets, concerts and hairdressers have lowered the curtain in Vienna and the rest of the country. But schools remain open and the streets of the capital were rather busy in the early morning.

« The situation is a little confused », testifies a resident, Kathrin Pauser, after having dropped off her 9 and 11-year-old daughters, both recently vaccinated, in class.

Since the availability of anti-Covid-19 vaccines to as many people as possible, no country in the European Union has dared to take the plunge.

As in previous confinements, the 8.9 million Austrians have, on paper, the ban on going out except for shopping, sports or for medical care. It is also possible to go to the office, although teleworking is recommended.

« It is a real chaos », estimates the political scientist Thomas Hofer, denouncing « the absence of clear strategy of the government ».

Faced with these new restrictions, the reaction was quick. On Saturday, as a crowd of Austrians drank one last mulled wine or went shopping before the shops closed, around 40,000 people took to the streets to cry out « dictatorship », the call of the party of far right FPÖ. The next day, in Linz (north), another rally mobilized thousands of protesters.

« At the end of winter, everyone will be vaccinated, cured or dead »

Elsewhere in Europe, once again the epicenter of the Covid-19 epidemic, the number of contaminations is also climbing, measures are returning and frustrations are erupting.

The German Minister of Health on Monday called on his compatriots to be vaccinated « urgently ». « Presumably at the end of winter everyone will be vaccinated, cured or dead » due to the spread of the Delta variant « very, very contagious », he said.

In Brussels also, clashes punctuated the gathering of some 35,000 demonstrators on Sunday, according to the police. Belgium has announced the generalization of the wearing of masks and also wants to make teleworking compulsory for jobs which allow it.

In the French department of Guadeloupe, the challenge to the vaccination obligation for caregivers has degenerated into a major social crisis. Police reinforcements arrived, after a weekend punctuated by violence, between roadblocks, fires and looting. A call for a general strike was also launched in Martinique.

With AFP

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