Brussels (Brussels Morning) Protests against restrictions imposed with the aim of controlling the coronavirus pandemic are gaining momentum as thousands of people took to the streets in Australia, France and the Netherlands on Saturday.
Thousands protested in several cities in Australia, with the protest in Melbourne the largest and most violent, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporting on Sunday.
Australian authorities arrested more than 250 people on Saturday and issued hundreds of fines for defying restrictions.
Protesters called for ending lockdowns, while authorities insist lockdowns are effective at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Despite the lockdown, the number of new confirmed infections in New South Wales continues to rise, with authorities reporting 825 new infections on Saturday.
Protests in France
Approximately 175,000 people took part in more than 200 protests across France on Saturday, marking the sixth consecutive weekend of anti-restriction protests, according to France 24 reporting.
Protesters denounced President Emmanuel Macron’s vaccine pass system, claiming that it creates a two-tier society, unfairly discriminates against the unvaccinated and violates their rights.
While roughly 60% of French people are fully vaccinated, the latest wave of infections that started in July has peaked at roughly 22,000 new cases per day in the last week or so.
Protest in Amsterdam
Thousands of people took part in the “Unmute Us” protest organised by the festival industry and performers in Amsterdam on Saturday, stressing that restrictions are forcing events and festivals to be cancelled.
While Dutch authorities banned large events over fears they could spread the coronavirus widely, organisers claimed that many festivals in other countries show these fears are unjustified.
As a case in point, they noted that Chicago authorities reported 203 COVID-19 infections linked to the Lollapalooza four-day music festival attended by around 385,000 people.
Protesters carried placards that read “Music = Medicine” and “Don’t Cancel Culture,” among others.