Austrian Police Ban Major Weekend Lockdown Protests in Vienna

Demonstrators wave the Austrian flag during a protest against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions and hold a banner 'Kurz must go' at the Maria Theresien Platz in Vienna, Austria on January 16, 2021. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP) (Photo by ALEX HALADA/AFP via Getty Images)
ALEX HALADA/AFP via Getty Images

Police in Austria have banned 15 of 17 planned demonstrations against government coronavirus lockdown measures, including a major protest in Vienna this weekend.

The police stated that the protests could be a danger to health and that social distancing measures could not be expected in protests that could see thousands of participants attend.

Of the 15 protests banned by the police, the largest was set to take place at Vienna’s Maria-Theresien-Platz and would have seen a speech by populist Freedom Party (FPÖ) MP and former Austrian Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, Kronen Zeitung reports.

FPÖ General Secretary Michael Schnedlitz called the ban on the demonstration a “scandal that is motivated purely by party politics,” and the party stated that it gave “full backing” those the organisers of the demonstration.

“This is an interference with fundamental rights and the foundations of our democracy,” FPÖ Vienna leader Dominikl Nepp added, saying the country was potentially making a transition “into a totalitarian state”.

The Vienna police, meanwhile, released a statement on the protests, saying: “If meetings take place anyway, dissolution must be expected. Violations of the regulations can result in fines of up to €720. In addition, there is a risk of fines of up to €500 for each individual disregard of the COVID Regulation.”

The prohibition on the protests comes just weeks after a large protest in Vienna that, according to police, saw 10,000 people gather to protest the lockdown measures, while organisers claimed the number of participants was closer to 50,000. It saw 20 arrests and 300 lockdown violation fines. 

Austria is not the only country in Europe to see large protests against lockdown measures in recent weeks.

After implementing a strict curfew, the Netherlands saw protests that quickly turned into riots in several cities last weekend. They continued on for several days. 

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com

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