Vienna, Dec 11 (EFE).- Thousands of Austrians took to Vienna’s streets Saturday to protest against Covid-19 curbs imposed by the government and a vaccine mandate slated to come into force in February.
According to police, some 20,000 people took part in the protest, which was organized by the far-right FPO party.
FPO leader Herbert Kickl said on social media that the party does not oppose vaccination, but rather making the vaccine mandatory.
He encouraged people to participate in Saturday’s rally peacefully “for freedom and against chaos and coercion.”
Protesters braved the cold to voice their opposition to restrictions, including a general lockdown that expires for vaccinated residents at midnight.
The lockdown will, however, remain in place for the unvaccinated, who will only be able to leave their homes for work and study or to meet basic needs such as buying food and medicine, as well as walking and exercising outdoors.
The Austrian government became the first in the European Union to approve compulsory vaccinations in a bid to speed up a stalling rollout. The measure comes into effect in February and failure to get a jab can lead to a 3,600-euro fine.
The mandate applies to all citizens over 14, except for pregnant women or people with underlying medical conditions.
Some 1.4 million people over the age of 14 have not had a vaccine in Austria, where 68% of the population is fully vaccinated. EFE