Up to 2,000 people gathered for a demonstration in Vienna on Saturday. They chanted “Freedom” as they marched, with some carrying signs that said, “People are locking up people, not the virus.”
A number of protesters bypassed police barricades by taking detours, while several groups broke through them. Officers were filmed using metal barriers to push people from the streets. At one point, police dispersed a gathering of between 150 and 200 protesters, confiscating flags, drums, and loudspeakers.
Seven people were arrested, Austrian media reported, citing police. More than 100 additional charges were brought for violating the law on public assembly. An officer was slightly injured.
Similar rallies were held in Klagenfurt, Innsbruck, and Leibnitz. Austria relaxed its most recent lockdown last week, but only for vaccinated citizens. A general nationwide vaccine mandate is due to take effect starting from February 1, 2022.
The government extended the lockdown for unvaccinated people for another 10 days on Friday, but agreed to temporarily ease some restrictions on private gatherings during Christmas and New Year’s Eve.