News, Culture & Society

Thousands of anti-lockdown protesters clash with police in Rome and Leipzig

Thousands of anti-lockdown protesters have clashed with police in Rome and Leipzig as anger continues to grow over coronavirus restrictions.

German police said demonstrators attacked them in Leipzig on Saturday, after the crowd was told to disperse. 

‘There were numerous attacks against security forces,’ police tweeted while media broadcast images of projectiles and fireworks thrown at police who had established a security cordon near the city’s main train station.     

Italy and Germany have both introduced new measures in an attempt to fight the second wave of Covid-19 that is gripping Europe.

Both countries reported their second highest ever number of new daily coronavirus cases today – for the second day running – although more tests are being done than during the first wave in the spring. 

Police officers stand guard as people gather to stage a demonstration against coronavirus lockdown measures in Leipzig, Germany on November 7

Police officers stand guard as people gather to stage a demonstration against coronavirus lockdown measures in Leipzig, Germany on November 7

Huge crowds took to the streets in Leipzig to protest against coronavirus restrictions after Germany entered a four-week partial lockdown on Monday.

Demonstrators clashed with police as they threw firecrackers amid claims from a local journalist that police had lost control of the protest. 

The crowd in the eastern German city was estimated to number around 20,000 and German media reported that some of those who clashed with police were members of far-right groups.

Some of the protesters also attacked journalists and people taking part in a counter-demonstration in Leipzig, a large student city.

The police were out in force and made several arrests but the clashes continued into the evening.

But ignoring the dispersal orders, hundreds of people marched up one of Leipzig’s main streets shouting ‘Merkel must go!’ and ‘peace, freedom, no dictatorship’, according to the German news agency DPA.

Huge crowds took to the streets in Leipzig to protest against coronavirus restrictions after Germany entered a four-week partial lockdown on Monday.

Huge crowds took to the streets in Leipzig to protest against coronavirus restrictions after Germany entered a four-week partial lockdown on Monday.

Police officers take a protester into custody during demonstrations against coronavirus meausres that have been introduced in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus

Police officers take a protester into custody during demonstrations against coronavirus meausres that have been introduced in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus

A protester wears a Guy Fawkes mask and holds a candle in front of German police as supporters of the Querdenken movement, which opposes coronavirus lockdown measures and has demanded the overthrow of the German government, gather to protest on November 7 in Leipzig

A protester wears a Guy Fawkes mask and holds a candle in front of German police as supporters of the Querdenken movement, which opposes coronavirus lockdown measures and has demanded the overthrow of the German government, gather to protest on November 7 in Leipzig

German riot police spray protesters in Leipzig with pepper-spray as supporters of the Querdenken movement as they gather to protest against the new coronavirus measures in the country

German riot police spray protesters in Leipzig with pepper-spray as supporters of the Querdenken movement as they gather to protest against the new coronavirus measures in the country

Municipal authorities said the protesters had infringed the conditions under which they were allowed to hold their demonstration.        

‘Firecrackers on police officers. Corona demonstrators drive the security forces on the ring in front of them. Loss of control.’ Martin Heller tweeted.

In a later tweet, he wrote: ‘The moment the police withdraw, Corona protesters force unauthorized march across the ring in #Leipzig.’

The four-week partial shutdown took effect in Germany on Monday, with bars, restaurants, leisure and sports facilities being closed and new contact restrictions imposed, but shops and schools remain open. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Germans as she introduced the new measures: ‘We need to take action now.

‘Our health system can still cope with this challenge today, but at this speed of infections it will reach the limits of its capacity within weeks.’

The crowd in the eastern German city was estimated to number around 20,000 and German media reported that some of those who clashed with police were members of far-right groups

The crowd in the eastern German city was estimated to number around 20,000 and German media reported that some of those who clashed with police were members of far-right groups

Some of the protesters also attacked journalists and people taking part in a counter-demonstration in Leipzig, a large student city

Some of the protesters also attacked journalists and people taking part in a counter-demonstration in Leipzig, a large student city

If people respect the new measures, she said, ‘then we will be able to have the conditions for a tolerable December’. 

Under the new measures, Germans will not be confined to their homes, but bars, cafes and restaurants must close, as well as theatres, opera houses and cinemas.

Looking ahead to the festive season, Merkel has ruled out any ‘lavish New Year’s Eve parties’, but held out hope that families will be able to celebrate Christmas together.

In Leipzig, protester Robert Koehn, 39, called the anti-virus measures ‘disproportionate’.

‘I simply see the collateral damage that these measures cause: the isolation of people, the bankruptcy that threatens them’, he said.

Fellow protester Anne, 65, said that ‘for me there is no virus, they cite the coronavirus crisis as a motive, but there are other things behind this’.

Germany recorded 23,399 new coronavirus cases on Saturday (pictured top). The death toll in Germany rose by 130 to 11,226 (bottom)

Germany recorded 23,399 new coronavirus cases on Saturday (pictured top). The death toll in Germany rose by 130 to 11,226 (bottom)

Organisers of the protest called for ‘the immediate lifting of restrictions to fundamental rights’ arising from measures taken to prevent the spread of the virus.

Police ordered the demonstrators several times to respect a distance of 1.5 yards from each other and to wear protective masks.

According to the regional public television MDR, flags recalling the German ‘Reich’ or empire that collapsed after World War I were waved by some protesters, and members of the neo-Nazi group NPD were reportedly seen in the crowd.

Saxony, the state where Leipzig is located, is considered a stronghold of far-right German nationalists, but the rally organisers consider themselves ‘free-thinkers’ representing a range of political and social movements.

The demonstrators are closely tracked by German authorities, especially since several hundred protesters forced their way past police barriers and onto the steps of the national parliament in late August.

Students and activists march during a protest against the government restriction measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, in Rome,on November 7,2020

Students and activists march during a protest against the government restriction measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, in Rome,on November 7,2020

Thousands of people marched to ask for social measures and to support lower incomes as a result of the pandemic crisis

Thousands of people marched to ask for social measures and to support lower incomes as a result of the pandemic crisis

A total of 41,063 people have now died because of COVID-19 in Italy, which has registered some 902,490 coronavirus infections since the start of its outbreak

A total of 41,063 people have now died because of COVID-19 in Italy, which has registered some 902,490 coronavirus infections since the start of its outbreak

Germany recorded 23,399 new coronavirus cases on Saturday – a record high and breaking Friday’s record of 21,506 – bringing the total since the outbreak of the pandemic to 642,488. The death toll in Germany rose by 130 to 11,226. 

Health minister Jens Spahn warned on Friday that ‘the situation is serious’ after the number of Covid patients being treated in intensive care units doubled in the last 10 days. 

He said: ‘As of today, the health system can cope with this, but a doubling every 10 days is something the best health system in the world can’t cope with in the long term.’ 

Laboratories in Germany are also near capacity, with scientists wanting stricter criteria for which people are tested. 

A protester pictured with a megaphone during the protest at Porta Pia in Rome against the new lockdown in Italy, November 7, 2020

A protester pictured with a megaphone during the protest at Porta Pia in Rome against the new lockdown in Italy, November 7, 2020

A sign reads: 'No to blackmail between health and rights' as protesters demonstrate against the new coronavirus restrictions in Rome on Saturday, November 7

A sign reads: ‘No to blackmail between health and rights’ as protesters demonstrate against the new coronavirus restrictions in Rome on Saturday, November 7

Protests were also seen in Rome after fresh restrictions, which include the new countrywide curfew from 10pm-5am as well as the early closure of bars and restaurants introduced late last month, came into effect.

The latest decree signed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte divides Italy into three zones according to the level of risk, with a lockdown ordered for prosperous Lombardy, fellow northern regions Piedmont and Val d’Aosta, as well as one southern region, Calabria.

In pictures from the Capital, people could be seen taking to the streets, letting off flares and shouting through megaphones to rally against the restrictions in the country that was the first European epicentre for the coronavirus.

The latest decree signed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte divides Italy into three zones according to the level of risk. Pictured: Protesters gather in Porta Pia in Rome, November 7

The latest decree signed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte divides Italy into three zones according to the level of risk. Pictured: Protesters gather in Porta Pia in Rome, November 7

The protests come as more than 12 million cases of coronavirus have now been recorded in Europe, making it the hardest-hit zone in the world by infections. 

Italy has registered 39,809 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Saturday, the country’s highest ever daily tally and up from 37,802 just one day prior.

The ministry also reported 425 COVID-related deaths, down from 446 the day before.

Italy has registered 39,809 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours (top graph). Italy's health ministry also reported 425 COVID-related deaths (bottom graph)

Italy has registered 39,809 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours (top graph). Italy’s health ministry also reported 425 COVID-related deaths (bottom graph)

A total of 41,063 people have now died because of COVID-19 in Italy, which has registered some 902,490 coronavirus infections since the start of its outbreak.

In the northern city of Bergamo – the epicentre of the first outbreak – several hundred protesters demonstrated yesterday in front of the mayor’s home Thursday night, hurling smoke bombs and shouting ‘Liberty’.

Mayor Giorgio Gori wrote on Facebook that unlike during the first quarantine – when images of army trucks in Bergamo transporting coffins from the overflowing morgue were seen around the world – ‘there is more tiredness and more distrust around.’ 

Taxi drivers protest during a demonstration against the lockdown measures to contain the pandemic in Rome

Taxi drivers protest during a demonstration against the lockdown measures to contain the pandemic in Rome

Austria warned on Friday that all its Covid-19 intensive care beds could be full within two weeks because of the ‘much stronger, more serious’ second wave of coronavirus infections.

There was a sharp drop to 6,464 new infections within 24 hours from a record 7,416 the day before, but Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said the number was still alarming.

‘The second wave is much stronger, more serious, more dynamic and more powerful,’ he told a news conference. 

‘The second wave is much stronger, more serious, more dynamic and more powerful,’ he told a news conference. 

Since Tuesday, a nighttime curfew has been in force and cafes, bars and restaurants are closed to all but take-away service. Factories, shops, kindergartens and primary schools remain open, while secondary schools and universities have switched to distance learning.

The director general of the National Public Health Institute, Herwig Ostermann, said his projections indicated that, even with these measures in place, 750 of Austria’s 800 intensive care beds reserved for COVID-19 patients were likely to be filled by November 18.

Tracing the source of a coronavirus infection has become harder and is being achieved in only 27 per cent of cases, said Daniela Schmid, chief epidemiologist at Austria’s Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES).

The average age of those infected is currently 43, she said.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.