As governments across Europe try to suppress the deadly second wave of Covid-19 with strict lockdown measures, protests against the restrictions flared up in Brussels, Vienna and Budapest over the weekend.
In Belgium on Sunday, 488 demonstrators were arrested in Brussels in an unauthorized anti-lockdown protest, a spokesperson for Mayor Philippe Close told CNN.
“Protests of 100 people are allowed under strict coronavirus restrictions, but when far more people arrived they were asked to leave by police and some (were) arrested because they didn’t comply with police orders,” said Close’s spokesperson Wafaa Hammich.
TV footage showed protestors clashing with riot police and holding signs that said, “Free Belgium.”
Some of those arrested were found to be carrying dangerous items such as knives, firecrackers, and a catapult, the Brussels Police department said on Twitter.
In Hungary, people marched in Budapest on Sunday to protest the closure of restaurants and cafes, which are limited to takeout service because of the pandemic.
Anatoli Belov, the owner of Husikam restaurant in the Hungarian capital, told CNN the government has been promising restaurants funds for many months but the industry has not received any. “It’s been very difficult but we are going to pull our socks up,” he said.
And in Austria, Reuters reported that thousands of anti-lockdown protesters gathered in central Vienna on Sunday but were prevented from marching by riot police. Austria is currently in its third national lockdown, with non-essential businesses closed.