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Police in Greece use tear gas on protesters breaking coronavirus lockdown

Police in Greece use tear gas on protesters breaking coronavirus lockdown
© Getty Images

Police in Athens, Greece, used tear gas while trying to break up protesters who violated the country's stringent coronavirus measures on large gatherings.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the Athens Polytechnic to mark the anniversary of the crushing of a student uprising in 1973 against the military junta, according to The Associated Press. The regime ruled Greece at the time.

A wreath-laying ceremony is held every year, but this year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic.  

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Authorities banned gatherings of four people or more during the anniversary, AP notes. Those restrictions remain in effect from Nov. 15-18. 

Three left-wing opposition parties defied the ban along with other groups, according to the AP. Police were able to dissolve a gathering of about 1,500 people after arresting demonstrators and using tear gas and a water cannon.   

According to the AP, the Civil Protection Ministry said that it tried to ask the protesters to stop demonstrating. 

“Those who, through their actions, show disregard for what is happening around them, are displaying antisocial behavior and contempt for those fighting for their lives in the hospitals,” the ministry said.

Earlier in the day, a Communist Party-backed union held a brief gathering outside the U.S. Embassy, according to the AP. About 250 people wore masks and marched in formation. 

Greece imposed a second coronavirus lockdown earlier this month, which is slated to end Nov. 30, amid a surge in new cases. Under the lockdown, residents have to notify authorities when they leave their homes, and can only leave for work, exercise and medical reasons. 

Some businesses are closed, but supermarkets will remain open and restaurants can only offer delivery services. 

More than 76,000 people in Greece have contracted the virus, according to the AP, and more than 1,100 have died. The nation’s intensive care units are at 78 percent capacity.