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Austria braces for violence in mass protests against Covid measures

Hundreds of people gathered in the heart of Vienna on Saturday, whistling and waving placards declaring their freedom in the Austrian capital a day after the country’s leaders announced a nationwide lockdown from next week and a vaccine warrant for protect yourself against the coronavirus.

Vienna police said 10 of the 11 protests recorded on Saturday involved protests against the measures, which aim to stop the galloping outbreak of the coronavirus in the country of nearly nine million people, more than a third of whom are unvaccinated .

Health authorities on Saturday reported 15,809 new cases in 24 hours, the latest record that is straining the Austrian health system.

Cries of “resistance” were heard from hundreds of people who had invaded the streets and gardens around Heldenplatz in front of the former Habsburg palace, during a demonstration promoted by the populist Freedom Party.

“We are all Austrians, whether we are vaccinated or not,” Udo Landbauer, a regional party leader, told the crowd. “We have rights, and we will continue to make noise until we get our basic rights back.”

Austrian police had urged people to avoid protests and 1,300 officers secured the streets in the form of helicopters monitored from above.

Several far-right groups had urged their supporters to travel to Vienna for the protests, a move that raised concerns about possible violence.

nytimes Gt

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