- Thousands of people in Austria took to the streets in Vienna on Saturday to protest a nationwide lockdown.
- The lockdown will begin Monday, the nation's chancellor announced Friday.
- A COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the country will begin February 1, also spurring the protests.
Thousands of people in Austria took to the streets in Vienna on Saturday in protest of a nationwide lockdown slated to begin Monday in the government's latest effort to curb the ongoing spread of COVID-19.
According to a report from The Associated Press, the far-right Freedom Party in the country had called for protests in the country in response to the new restrictions.
Herbert Kickl, the leader of the party, said recently he contracted COVID-19 and couldn't attend the protest, though he appeared in a video where he told protestors to stand up against government efforts he called "totalitarian," according to the report.
As CNN reported, Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced the lockdown on Friday and said it will begin Monday and last at least 10 days. At the end of 10 days, the lockdown could be extended for another 10 days, Schallenberg said at a press conference in Vienna.
Beginning Monday people will be allowed to leave their homes to exercise, to go to medical appointments, and to buy groceries, according to the AP.
About 1,300 police officers responded to the protest and used loudspeakers to tell protestors to wear masks, though most of the protesters were not wearing them, the AP reported. Protestors chanted "resistance!" and blew whistles at a march that began at Vienna's Heldenplatz, per the report.
The COVID-19 vaccine will be mandatory on February 1, according to the report. About 66% of the Austrian population is vaccinated for the disease, CNN reported.
There were about 65,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported the week of November 15, according to data from the World Health Organization. Just about 11,000 cases were diagnosed the week of October 11, according to the data, showing a sharp uptick over the last month.
Protests have erupted across Europe amid new efforts to end the spread of COVID-19. In the Dutch city of Rotterdam, protests turned to riots where demonstrators burned cars and threw rocks at police. Police used water cannons and fired warning shots that resulted in at least two injuries, Reuters reported.