15,000 people in Romania protest COVID-19 mitigation measures
Roughly 15,000 people in the Romanian capital protested on Saturday against recent measures announced by the government aimed at curbing further spread of COVID-19, Reuters reported.
Reuters cited local media that reported the estimated number of protesters at the event.
People could be heard shouting “Down with the government” and “freedom, freedom without certificates” in Bucharest as residents gathered, many of whom were not wearing facial coverings, to protest the mitigation measures.
Effective Sunday, residents will be required to show certificates to certain facilities and businesses that they have either been vaccinated or have already contracted COVID-19, Reuters reported.
In areas where the level of COVID-19 transmission surpasses 6 cases per 1,000 individuals, the government will also make masks mandatory in public areas, both outside and indoors. There are also anticipated plans to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for health care workers, according to the wire service.
The protests come as Romania’s vaccination trails most other European countries. According to Johns Hopkins University, roughly 28 percent of its population is fully vaccinated. Reuters noted that after Bulgaria, it has the lowest vaccination rate among countries part of the European Union.
The spread of COVID-19 misinformation coupled with distrust of the government has fueled the lagging vaccination rates, according to the wire service.
The meager vaccination rate is particularly worrisome given that the country is grappling with a surge of COVID-19 cases. The country saw close to 11,000 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and over new 12,000 cases the day prior, per data from the World Health Organization. In comparison, new cases were in the double digits for parts of June and July.
Earlier this year, both Greece and France also grappled with protests over COVID-19 mitigation measures.
Both countries required their health care workers to get vaccinated, and France implemented a similar COVID-19 health pass that would tell businesses if French residents had been vaccinated, tested negative for the virus or recovered recently from COVID-19.