Tens of thousands protest COVID-19 restrictions in Central Europe

Demonstrations against COVID-19 restrictions broke out in a handful of cities in Central Europe this weekend, including one protest waged just outside the home of a German health minister.

The health minister for the German state of Saxony, Petra Köpping, condemned a rally organized by a right-wing extremist group that took place outside of her home on Friday evening, during which protestors carried torches and chanted about their opposition to the country's COVID-19 policies, Deutsche Welle reported.

Köpping called the incident “disgusting and indecent." Police said they were looking into the demonstration, according to the German news outlet. 

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Several protests also occurred on Saturday in Frankfurt and Berlin. The demonstrations in Frankfurt appeared to be more violent, according to Reuters, as pepper spray and batons were used by police to break up the several hundred people in attendance who had allegedly attacked officers and were not social distancing or wearing masks. 

Meanwhile, more than 40,000 people in Vienna railed on Saturday against a lockdown that was imposed in an effort to curb further spread of COVID-19, Reuters reported. 

Austria saw protesters holding signs in the streets of its capital bearing messages such as “Make Austria Great Again” and “I will decide for myself.”

The tens of thousands of protesters were met with about 1,500 counter protesters and rough 1,200 officers.

In the Netherlands, several thousand people in the town of Utrecht also protested against COVID-19 measures after officials ordered a nighttime lockdown, which included the closure of a majority of stores, bars and restaurants, Reuters reported.

Last month, demonstrations against pandemic restrictions in the Netherlands turned violent after police allegedly opened fire on protestors. At least seven people were injured during the incident.