Demonstrators staged an unauthorized protest in the Austrian capital, Vienna, to show their discontent with the government’s strict lockdown. Police blocked the central Ring Road and sought to disperse the crowd.
Between hundreds to thousands of demonstrators have gathered at the Maria Theresa Square in the center of the Austrian capital, according to various local media reports. The protesters defied the ban on the large protest issued by the authorities.
The demonstrators that soon occupied part of the Vienna Ring Road called the event a ‘Covid-19 walk’. Various fringe right-wing groups, hooligans, and coronavirus skeptics, among others, chanted slogans against the Covid-19 lockdown and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Some reports indicate that a number of protesters arrived from other regions of the country.
The protesters held placards and banners that read: “Media are the virus” and “Kurz must go.” Some of them also waved the flag of Austria. Police demanded the protesters follow the social distancing rules and wear masks, but the demands were ignored, the media said, adding that police declared the gathering illegal and demanded the crowd disperse in 15 minutes.
Large numbers of police in riot gear were deployed to the scene. They blocked a section of the Ring Road to prevent the crowd from marching to the Austrian parliament and the Vienna State Opera. The protest turned into a tense standoff with the police, with clashes between demonstrators and officers on the sidelines.
Several people were arrested, according to Austrian media. A video posted to social media shows that at least one journalist was among those arrested.
READ more: Clashes, arrests as thousands face off with riot police at protest against covid-19 lockdown in Vienna