Protests sweep Europe as citizens speak out against lockdowns and vaccine requirements

As their governments impose new coronavirus-related restrictions, hundreds of thousands of people across Europe  took to the streets over the weekend to demonstrate.

Massive protests occurred in the Netherlands, Italy, France, Austria, and other countries in response to full or partial lockdowns and vaccine requirements.

Protests in the Dutch City of Rotterdam even turned violent late Friday, as seven people were injured and more than 50 arrested. According to police, some demonstrators threw stones, and police tried to impose order using water cannons and warning shots from their guns, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Dutch protesters were angry at a partial lockdown forcing many businesses to close at 8 p.m., as well as a proposed law that would effectively ban unvaccinated people from participating in many aspects of society, according to The Washington Post.

Dutch police officers “felt it necessary to draw their weapons to defend themselves” on multiple occasions as protesters tore through Rotterdam and set fires, Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb told reporters, according to NBC News.

Protests against coronavirus restrictions have become a weekly occurrence in Rome, “including at the ancient Circus Maximus grounds,” The Post reported.

Thousands of demonstrators “gathered at the ancient Circus Maximus chariot-racing ground to oppose ‘Green Pass’ certificates required at workplaces, venues and on public transport,” according to the BBC.

In France, meanwhile, demonstrators were protesting against vaccine passports.

And Austrian protesters took to the streets to march against a measure making Austria the first country to require that all citizens get vaccinated in order to leave home to go to work and participate in other normal activities.