Several thousand people demonstrated this Saturday in Vienna, the Austrian capital, against the confinement and mandatory vaccination announced on Friday by the government to try to stop the increase in covid-19 cases.
The organizer of the protest was the far-right party FPÖ, but its leader, Herbert Kickl, did not attend because he was positive for the virus.
With banners denouncing “the crown-dictatorship” and slogans such as “no to the division of society”, the crowd gathered in the heart of the Austrian capital, near the chancellery.
The protest took place under heavy police surveillance, as law enforcement agencies feared the arrival of violent fans, neo-Nazi militants and the far-right identity movement.
“It’s not normal that our rights are taken away from us,” said Katarina Gierscher, a 42-year-old teacher who made the six-hour drive to get there from Tyrol, on the border with Italy. “The government wants to divide us. We have to stick together,” he added.
Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced on Friday a total confinement of the population until December 13. A week earlier, the government had also announced a lockdown of unvaccinated people.
As of this Monday, the 8.9 million Austrians will not be able to leave their home except to make purchases, do sports or go to the doctor. Schools are still open, but parents are advised to keep children at home.
In addition, the government is also preparing a law to make vaccination mandatory for adults from February.
Schallenberg on Friday criticized the “political forces in this country vehemently opposed” to vaccination and denounced an “attack on our health system.”
Austria reached levels of contagion not seen since the boreal spring of 2020: more than 15,000 new cases daily, while the vaccination rate is around 66%, that is, slightly below the European average.