LONDON (AP) – Protesters took to the streets of London, Tel Aviv and other cities on Saturday to protest coronavirus restrictions, decrying how the measures have affected daily life even with infection rates rising in many places and the death toll around the world approaching one million.
In the UK, the latest official estimates released on Friday showed new infections and hospital admissions for coronavirus were doubling every seven to eight days. Britain has the highest death toll in Europe since the start of the pandemic, with 41,821 confirmed deaths linked to the virus.
The government recently banned social gatherings of more than six people in the hopes that it would help reverse a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and suggested that tighter restrictions could be planned.
Saturday’s demonstration in Trafalgar Square, themed “Resist and act for freedom”, ended with clashes between protesters and the London police, as officers. tried to disperse hundreds of people holding banners and signs scribbled with anti-restriction messages such as “Now is tyranny”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has warned the city could add curfews, force pubs to close earlier and ban home visits to try to limit the sharp rise in new cases in the city.
“I am extremely concerned by the latest evidence I saw today from public health experts on the rate of acceleration at which COVID-19 is now spreading here in London,” Khan said on Friday. “It is increasingly likely that in London additional measures will soon be needed to slow the spread of the virus.”
In Israel, meanwhile, authorities ordered a complete lockdown which began on Friday and coincided with the major Jewish holidays, which are usually celebrated with family reunions and large prayer services.
Protesters in swimsuits gathered on a Tel Aviv beach and waved black and pink flags indicating various protests.
In Australia, a hundred demonstrators gathered Saturday in the seaside suburb of Elwood, Melbourne, before being dispersed by police.
Police in the area tried to dissuade opponents of the lockout from protesting, but the rallies became routine. Victoria Police said in a press release that “the behavior of those selfish few who choose to blatantly ignore instructions will not be tolerated”.
In Romania’s capital Bucharest, several hundred people protested against virus restrictions, including the compulsory use of masks in schools. About 2.8 million children in Romania started the school year on Monday and schools have taken various precautions in an attempt to prevent epidemics.
Romania is among the countries that have seen a new peak in confirmed cases, including a daily national record of 1,713 cases earlier in the week and 1,333 more on Saturday. In total, Romania has recorded 111,550 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 4,402 deaths from the disease since the start of the pandemic.
Protesters in Bucharest University Square drew parallels between measures to protect against the pandemic and Nazi regimes. One of the speakers compared the measures to the torture of dissidents during communism.
The harsh language and comparisons echoed that of conservative protesters at rallies in dozens of US cities at the start of the pandemic, including some who managed to pressure local governors and officials to lift restrictions on business and social activities.
Experts said some state officials dropped restrictions too quickly, allowing the virus to continue to spread this summer in areas of the country that had not experienced the full force of the pandemic at the start of the outbreak. year.
Johns Hopkins University reported nearly 200,000 deaths in the United States since the start of the pandemic and 6.7 million confirmed cases of the virus in the United States on Saturday.
Ghirda reported from Bucharest, Romania.