IN PICTURES: Protests spread across Europe as coronavirus surges create new lockdowns

Tens of thousands of protesters angry at Covid-19 restrictions rallied in cities across Europe on Saturday as several nations reimposed partial lockdowns to fight new surges in infections.

IN PICTURES: Protests spread across Europe as coronavirus surges create new lockdowns
Protestors gather for a demonstration to demand the compliance of basic rights and an end of the restrictive coronavirus measures in Kassel, central Germany, on March 20, 2021.(Photo by ARMANDO BABANI / AFP)

The coronavirus, which has killed more than 2.7 million people globally, has been spreading faster recently, with the number of new infections up globally by 14 percent in the last week, according to AFP data.

That has forced governments to impose social distancing and movement restrictions again, even as vaccines are rolled out, with residents across Europe facing fresh and tougher measures.

But populations have grown increasingly weary of the economically painful restrictions, and frustrations spilled over in cities across Europe, with thousands marching in Germany, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland.

Demonstrators in the German city of Kassel held up signs including “End the Lockdown” and “Corona Rebels”, as they participated in a protest attended by activists from both the far-left and the far-right, as well as advocates of conspiracy theories about the pandemic and vaccines.

READ ALSO: ‘We don’t tolerate such attacks’: German police use batons and pepper spray at Covid protest in Kassel

Authorities used water cannon, batons and pepper spray to disperse the Kassel protests, which a Kassel police spokesman said numbered between 15,000 and 20,000 – one of the largest such rallies so far this year.

In Sweden, police disbanded demonstrations against virus restrictions in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö on Saturday.

The current law in Sweden allows a maximum of eight people to gather in one place. But when the demonstrations began at 1pm in the major Swedish cities, police were quick to point out that they were in breach of the law.

There were also anti-restrictions protests across many cities in Europe, including Düsseldorf, Vienna and the Swiss town of Liestal.

In Austria, about 1,000 protesters gathered to protest against the government’s virus measures near the capital’s central train station. Police reproached several protesters who were not wearing masks and gathering close together, news agency APA reported.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: How European countries are faring against ‘third wave’ of Covid infections

Here are this weekend’s protests across Europe in pictures:

A protester holds a placard stating ‘freedom’. Photo: Thomas Johansson / TT
Flowers and candles are placed at the statue of the founding father of Gothenburg, king Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, in Gothenburg’s Gustaf Adolfs torg town square during Saturday’s demonstration against coronavirus restrictions. Photo: Thomas Johansson / TT 

Protesters gather in Malmö, Sweden. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT

Protestors take part in a march demanding the compliance of basic rights and an end of the restrictive coronavirus measures in Kassel, central Germany, on Saturday. (Photo by ARMANDO BABANI / AFP)
Protestors hold up a banner reading ‘Corona rebels Düsseldorf’ as they take part in a demonstration to demand the compliance of basic rights and an end of the restrictive coronavirus measures in Kassel, central Germany, on March 20, 2021. – Several thousand critics and so-called ‘Querdenker’ from all over Germany were expected to take part in the protest organised by the group ‘Freie Buerger Kassel’. (Photo by ARMANDO BABANI / AFP)
A protester wears a mask reading “Mask mandatory, shut your mouth” during a demonstration against the ongoing coronavirus Covid-19 restrictions in Liestal, near Basel, on March 20, 2021. – Between 3,000 and 5,000 people, some of them wearing white suits, take part in a ‘silent demonstration’ on March 20, 2021 in Liestal, Northern Switzerland, demanding an end to restrictions designed to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP)
Protesters dressed in white take part in a demonstration against the ongoing coronavirus Covid-19 restrictions in Liestal, near Basel, on March 20, 2021. (Photo by STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP)
A protester smokes through a personalised mask during a demonstration against the ongoing coronavirus Covid-19 restrictions in Liestal, near Basel. (Photo by STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP)
Police clear protesters from a square at the end of a demonstration. (Photo by Yann Schreiber / AFP)
Police try to push back protestors who take part in a demonstration. (Photo by ARMANDO BABANI / AFP)
Protestors gather for a demonstration in Kassel. (Photo by ARMANDO BABANI / AFP)
Police in riot gear and wearing face masks are pictured at the end of a demonstration in Kassel, central Germany, on March 20, 2021. (Photo by Yann Schreiber / AFP)
A protester wears a placard reading “modern slaves wear masks!” during a demonstration against Covid-19 restrictions in Liestal. (Photo by STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP)
A protestor wears a face mask with the tag reading ‘monetary fine protection’ in Kassel. (Photo by ARMANDO BABANI / AFP)

Member comments

  1. I for one cannot see how we can continue indefinitely with the policy of trying to control the Covid 19 pandemic as it seems more and more unlikely that the world population will continue to put up with endless lockdowns, masks and an economic disaster going forwards.

    As an observer it seems that the main concern worldwide is the ability of a country’s health system to be able to cope with the number of critical care beds needed when there is a surge.

    If the vaccine fails to cure the problem then it begs the question whether we should not put much more resource into critical care assets now so we can cope with the virus running more freely through the world population.

    I cannot see how the current situation is sustainable for the coming years and so maybe it is time to rethink the future pandemic strategy from scratch rather than blindly continuing as we are ?

    Paul Markland

  2. It’s deeply disturbing to see adults who are so self-centered that they believe that the requirements of social distancing, masks, and lockdown are equivalent to slavery. These protesters need to read about or watch films the Holocaust in Europe or about slavery in the US as well as the practices like lynching during the Jim-Crow era in the US. And before they go out into the streets again, they should consider their impact, and try to imagine the experiences of physicians and nurses who’ve been driven to despair and depression while working the intensive-care units of hospitals around the world. It’s not hard to find their heart-wrenching interviews and articles.

  3. 班农和郭文贵利用了闫丽梦作为一名逃离香港的科研人员的身份,让公众持续关注“COVID-19作为一种生物武器”的说法。与其他在线平台一样,数据存储库和预印服务器为应对COVID-19的国际合作提供了关键基础设施,但由于其联合赋予的合法性,它们也可能被用于虚假信息运动。当公众和一些记者看到这些网站时,他们可能会无意中认为这些内容是经过官方审查或评估的,因此是可靠的科学。当被顶尖科学家、大学和研究所的研究包围时,伪科学尤其具有欺骗性。

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Paxlovid, tests and isolation: Covid care for tourists in France

With travel opening up, many people are planning trips to France over the next few months, but the Covid pandemic has not gone away. Here are your questions answered on testing, isolation and medical treatment if you do fall sick while on holiday.

Paxlovid, tests and isolation: Covid care for tourists in France

Travel rules

Covid-related travel rules have mostly been relaxed now but you will still need to show proof of being fully vaccinated at the French border. If you are not vaccinated you will need to show a negative Covid test – find the full breakdown of the rules HERE.


Once in France if you develop symptoms or you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive you will need to get a Covid test.

The good news is that testing is widely available in France, both for residents and tourists.

The easiest way to get a test is head to a pharmacy, most of which offer the rapid-result antigen test on a walk-in basis Tests are available to everyone who wants one, there is no need to fulfill any set criteria.

For full details on how to get a test, and some handy French vocab, click HERE.

The difference for tourists is that you will have to pay for your test, while residents get their costs reimbursed by the French state health system.

In the pharmacy you may be asked for your carte vitale – this is the health card that residents use to claim refunds. As a tourist you won’t have the card – you can still get the test, you will just need to pay for it. Costs vary between pharmacies but are capped at €22 for an antigen test or €54 for a PCR test.


If your test is positive you are legally required to isolate, but how long your isolation period is depends on the your vaccination stats – full details HERE.


For most fully-vaccinated people without underlying health conditions the symptoms of Covid are fairly mild, but if you do become ill, here’s how to access medical help while in France.

Pharmacy – one of the first things you will notice about France is that pharmacies are everywhere, just look out for the green cross. As well as selling over-the-counter medication, pharmacies all have at least one fully-qualified pharmacist on the staff who can offer medical advice. 

Take advantage of pharmacists – they train for at least six years so they’re very knowledgeable and they’re easy to access by simply walking into the shop. In tourist areas it’s likely that they will speak English. Pharmacists can also signpost you to a nearby doctor if you need extra help.

Doctors – if you need to see a doctor, look out for a médecin généraliste (a GP or family doctor). There is no need to be registered with a doctor, simply call up and ask for an appointment if you need one. If you have a smartphone you can use the medical app Doctolib to find a généraliste in your area who speaks English. You will need to pay for your consultation – €25 is the standard charge and you pay the doctor directly using either cash or a debit card.

You may be able to claim back the cost later on your own health/travel insurance depending on the policy.

Ambulance – if you are very sick or have difficulty breathing you should call an ambulance – the number is 15. All non-residents are entitled to emergency treatment in France, whether or not you have insurance, but if you are admitted or have treatment you may need to pay later.

READ ALSO Emergency in France: Who to call and what to say

Paxlovid – several readers have asked whether the Covid treatment drug Paxlovid is available in France. It was licenced for use in February 2022 and is available on prescription from pharmacies, mainly for people with underlying health conditions or an impaired immune system. You can get a prescription from a medical practitioner.

The drug is reimbursed for French residents, but as a tourist you will have to pay.