IN PICTURES: Protests spread across Europe as coronavirus surges create new lockdowns

Tens of thousands of protesters angry at Covid-19 restrictions rallied in cities across Europe on Saturday as several nations reimposed partial lockdowns to fight new surges in infections.

IN PICTURES: Protests spread across Europe as coronavirus surges create new lockdowns
Protestors gather for a demonstration to demand the compliance of basic rights and an end of the restrictive coronavirus measures in Kassel, central Germany, on March 20, 2021.(Photo by ARMANDO BABANI / AFP)

The coronavirus, which has killed more than 2.7 million people globally, has been spreading faster recently, with the number of new infections up globally by 14 percent in the last week, according to AFP data.

That has forced governments to impose social distancing and movement restrictions again, even as vaccines are rolled out, with residents across Europe facing fresh and tougher measures.

But populations have grown increasingly weary of the economically painful restrictions, and frustrations spilled over in cities across Europe, with thousands marching in Germany, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland.

Demonstrators in the German city of Kassel held up signs including “End the Lockdown” and “Corona Rebels”, as they participated in a protest attended by activists from both the far-left and the far-right, as well as advocates of conspiracy theories about the pandemic and vaccines.

READ ALSO: ‘We don’t tolerate such attacks’: German police use batons and pepper spray at Covid protest in Kassel

Authorities used water cannon, batons and pepper spray to disperse the Kassel protests, which a Kassel police spokesman said numbered between 15,000 and 20,000 – one of the largest such rallies so far this year.

In Sweden, police disbanded demonstrations against virus restrictions in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö on Saturday.

The current law in Sweden allows a maximum of eight people to gather in one place. But when the demonstrations began at 1pm in the major Swedish cities, police were quick to point out that they were in breach of the law.

There were also anti-restrictions protests across many cities in Europe, including Düsseldorf, Vienna and the Swiss town of Liestal.

In Austria, about 1,000 protesters gathered to protest against the government’s virus measures near the capital’s central train station. Police reproached several protesters who were not wearing masks and gathering close together, news agency APA reported.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: How European countries are faring against ‘third wave’ of Covid infections

Here are this weekend’s protests across Europe in pictures:

A protester holds a placard stating ‘freedom’. Photo: Thomas Johansson / TT
Flowers and candles are placed at the statue of the founding father of Gothenburg, king Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, in Gothenburg’s Gustaf Adolfs torg town square during Saturday’s demonstration against coronavirus restrictions. Photo: Thomas Johansson / TT 

Protesters gather in Malmö, Sweden. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT

Protestors take part in a march demanding the compliance of basic rights and an end of the restrictive coronavirus measures in Kassel, central Germany, on Saturday. (Photo by ARMANDO BABANI / AFP)
Protestors hold up a banner reading ‘Corona rebels Düsseldorf’ as they take part in a demonstration to demand the compliance of basic rights and an end of the restrictive coronavirus measures in Kassel, central Germany, on March 20, 2021. – Several thousand critics and so-called ‘Querdenker’ from all over Germany were expected to take part in the protest organised by the group ‘Freie Buerger Kassel’. (Photo by ARMANDO BABANI / AFP)
A protester wears a mask reading “Mask mandatory, shut your mouth” during a demonstration against the ongoing coronavirus Covid-19 restrictions in Liestal, near Basel, on March 20, 2021. – Between 3,000 and 5,000 people, some of them wearing white suits, take part in a ‘silent demonstration’ on March 20, 2021 in Liestal, Northern Switzerland, demanding an end to restrictions designed to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP)
Protesters dressed in white take part in a demonstration against the ongoing coronavirus Covid-19 restrictions in Liestal, near Basel, on March 20, 2021. (Photo by STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP)
A protester smokes through a personalised mask during a demonstration against the ongoing coronavirus Covid-19 restrictions in Liestal, near Basel. (Photo by STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP)
Police clear protesters from a square at the end of a demonstration. (Photo by Yann Schreiber / AFP)
Police try to push back protestors who take part in a demonstration. (Photo by ARMANDO BABANI / AFP)
Protestors gather for a demonstration in Kassel. (Photo by ARMANDO BABANI / AFP)
Police in riot gear and wearing face masks are pictured at the end of a demonstration in Kassel, central Germany, on March 20, 2021. (Photo by Yann Schreiber / AFP)
A protester wears a placard reading “modern slaves wear masks!” during a demonstration against Covid-19 restrictions in Liestal. (Photo by STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP)
A protestor wears a face mask with the tag reading ‘monetary fine protection’ in Kassel. (Photo by ARMANDO BABANI / AFP)

Member comments

  1. I for one cannot see how we can continue indefinitely with the policy of trying to control the Covid 19 pandemic as it seems more and more unlikely that the world population will continue to put up with endless lockdowns, masks and an economic disaster going forwards.

    As an observer it seems that the main concern worldwide is the ability of a country’s health system to be able to cope with the number of critical care beds needed when there is a surge.

    If the vaccine fails to cure the problem then it begs the question whether we should not put much more resource into critical care assets now so we can cope with the virus running more freely through the world population.

    I cannot see how the current situation is sustainable for the coming years and so maybe it is time to rethink the future pandemic strategy from scratch rather than blindly continuing as we are ?

    Paul Markland

  2. It’s deeply disturbing to see adults who are so self-centered that they believe that the requirements of social distancing, masks, and lockdown are equivalent to slavery. These protesters need to read about or watch films the Holocaust in Europe or about slavery in the US as well as the practices like lynching during the Jim-Crow era in the US. And before they go out into the streets again, they should consider their impact, and try to imagine the experiences of physicians and nurses who’ve been driven to despair and depression while working the intensive-care units of hospitals around the world. It’s not hard to find their heart-wrenching interviews and articles.

  3. 班农和郭文贵利用了闫丽梦作为一名逃离香港的科研人员的身份,让公众持续关注“COVID-19作为一种生物武器”的说法。与其他在线平台一样,数据存储库和预印服务器为应对COVID-19的国际合作提供了关键基础设施,但由于其联合赋予的合法性,它们也可能被用于虚假信息运动。当公众和一些记者看到这些网站时,他们可能会无意中认为这些内容是经过官方审查或评估的,因此是可靠的科学。当被顶尖科学家、大学和研究所的研究包围时,伪科学尤其具有欺骗性。

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‘Forever chemical’ PFAS found in organic eggs in Denmark

Most Danish egg producers said on Monday they would no longer use fish meal in feed for organic hens after the pollutant chemical PFAS was detected in eggs.

‘Forever chemical’ PFAS found in organic eggs in Denmark

Danske Æg, an industry organisation representing around 90 percent of producers in the country, said in a statement that fish meal would no longer be used as a result of the discovery.

“In consideration of food safety we have stopped using fish meal,” Danske Æg sector director Jørgen Nyberg Larsen said in the statement.

A study conducted by the DTU National Food Institute (DTU Fødevareinstituttet) and the Danish Veterinary and Food Association (Fødevarestyrelsen) found a high PFAS content in egg yolks from hen farms across Denmark.

The chemical was transferred to the eggs from fish meal, which is used in feed for the hens, the study concluded.

“We take the situation very seriously because food safety is crucial for all of us. We are therefore no removing fish meal from organic eggs and putting all our efforts towards better understanding the situation,” Larsen said. 

What are PFAS? 

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a large group of synthetic chemicals used in various products since the early 1950s. Their past uses include foam in fire extinguishers, food packaging and in textiles, carpets and paints. Also known as ‘forever chemicals’, they persist in water and soil and can cause harm to human health. 

Due to their chemical properties, they take a long time to break down and can be found in very low concentrations in blood samples from populations all over the world.

They are, however, unwanted in the environment because they have been found to have concerning links to health complications. Their use in materials which come into contact with foods, like paper and card, has been banned in Denmark since 2020.

PFAS have been linked to a series of health complications and, if ingested in high enough amounts, are suspected of causing liver damage, kidney damage, elevated cholesterol levels, reduced fertility, hormonal disturbances, weaker immune systems, negatively affecting foetal development and being carcinogenic.

READ ALSO: PFAS pollution: What do people living in Denmark need to know?

DTU National Food Institute said that the issue with the chemical making its way into eggs can be solved by changing the feed given to hens.

“We are already in close dialogue with the animal feed industry and work is ongoing on measures that will eliminate the problem. We note that DTU also has suggested solutions and we will naturally look at those,” Larsen said.

“But right now, we are putting a stop to fish meal so that consumers can also feel comfortable with organic eggs in the short term. After that, we can naturally look at a permanent fix,” he said.

Supermarket company Coop said on Monday that it had no plans to remove organic eggs from its shelves as a result of the detection of PFAS.

The company, which owns the SuperBrugsen, Irma and Kvickly grocery store chains, told news wire Ritzau it had been in contact with its suppliers of organic eggs to confirm that the level of PFAS in the eggs does not exceed the permitted amount.