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Netherlands: unrest even in a football stadium

Until last weekend, Dutch football club SC Cambuur Leeuwarden were making the headlines everyone wants. The team got off to a great start in the country’s premier league and were set to host FC Utrecht for the best game of the week. It was at this point that unvaccinated supporters who were barred from entering the stadium due to coronavirus restrictions turned violent and stormed the pitch. The game was almost called off after storming the pitch and launching fireworks.

And Leeuwarden was not an isolated case. Violence and riots over COVID-19 restrictions were also reported in Enschede, Groningen, The Hague and Rotterdam for the third night in a row. Rioters threw stones at police, ransacked streets and set cars on fire. According to local authorities, more than 140 people have been arrested.

COVID-19 cases reported in Europe

The Netherlands has been on partial lockdown for a week now as it tries to curb the increase in the number of cases. People are only allowed to meet a maximum of four other people inside their homes, employees should work from home if possible, and stores should close earlier.

Belgium: opponents of COVID-19 measures hijack protest song

“Bella Ciao” is an Italian protest song which was the hymn of the Italian partisans fighting Mussolini and Hitler during World War II. The song, which sings about courage and resistance, has since been co-opted by opponents of Belgian coronavirus measures, including right-wing radicals – and they have flocked to Brussels in their thousands to sing the song outside the headquarters of the ‘European Union.

Police use water cannons against protesters in Brussels

Police use water cannons against protesters in Brussels

The situation then worsened in the capital when protesters threw stones and smoke bombs, forcing police to retaliate with tear gas and water cannons. Those who are not vaccinated in Belgium are no longer allowed to visit bars or restaurants, and workers are expected to work from home at least four days a week, if possible. The country has also extended its vaccination campaign to children aged five to eleven.

Slovakia: the feast of the “Velvet Revolution” becomes the day of protest against the coronavirus

On November 17, 1989, just over a week after the fall of the Berlin Wall, thousands of students took to the streets of Prague, then the capital of Czechoslovakia, demanding more freedom and the end of the Communist regime. It was the start of the so-called “Velvet Revolution”. Thirty-two years later, protesters took advantage of the national holiday to express their dissatisfaction with the government’s policy on coronaviruses, setting off fireworks.

Slovak Minister of Health Marek Krajci gets vaccinated

Slovak Minister of Health Marek Krajci gets vaccinated

Less than half of the population is vaccinated and the unvaccinated are now quarantined. They are no longer allowed to attend public events, nor to frequent restaurants, hotels or shopping centers. With only a few hundred beds still available in hospitals, a medical emergency is looming.

Infographic of new cases of corona Corona in Europe per 100,000 inhabitants

New cases of coronavirus in Europe

Austria: Freedom Party mobilizes against nationwide confinement

Herbert Kickl may have fallen ill after contracting COVID, but that doesn’t stop the leader of the far-right Populist Freedom Party from spearheading his country’s protest movement. “Austria is a dictatorship to this day,” Kickl said, in response to the government’s decision to apply a fourth national lockdown from this week.

The curfew will be in effect for everyone for three weeks, until December 13. For those not vaccinated, the curfew will continue indefinitely. Museums and cinemas have been closed and people are only allowed to leave their homes for valid reasons. Only schools remain open and parents can decide to send their children to school. The Austrian police are required to meticulously monitor compliance.

Portugal: Thanks to the military, the country is champion of vaccination

At the start of the year, few people in Portugal had heard of Henri Gouveia e Melo. But today, the 61-year-old naval officer and head of the country’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign is a national hero. Standing in uniform and addressing the country, he said, “This is us against the virus. Do you want to fight in our ranks? Then you have to get vaccinated!”

The man behind the high vaccination rate in Portugal, Henrique Gouveia e Melo

The man behind the high vaccination rate in Portugal, Henrique Gouveia e Melo

And that’s exactly what they did, making Portugal the current leader in Europe with 88% of the population having received at least one injection. Among those over 12, this figure rises to 98%. Portuguese health authorities send residents at least three suggested vaccination appointments via SMS. Despite this, infections tend to increase, if only slightly, which makes wearing the outer mask mandatory again a matter of debate.

Infographic of new cases of corona Corona in Europe per 100,000 inhabitants

New cases of coronavirus in Europe

Spain: will the virus be over next spring?

If you believe what the media is saying these days, Spain is a coronavirus oasis. The country’s socialist prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, was criticized early on for his COVID-19 policy, but not anymore. He told a crowd of jubilant supporters in the tourist fortress of Benidorm that those who “used to scream like that are now silent”. Speaking of when he thought the virus could finally be defeated, he said: “maybe in the spring”.

Spanish police patrol the streets during nighttime curfew measures in Benidorm

Police maintain a nighttime curfew in Benidorm in July

Ninety-eight percent of Spanish hospital workers are now fully vaccinated. In retirement homes, the figure is 90%. These workers experienced firsthand the dramatic start of the pandemic, with hospitals completely overcrowded and dozens of deaths in nursing homes. And when it comes to booster shots, no one needs to rush for dates in Spain. Everyone is given dating options via SMS or WhatsApp that they can choose from. Many regions are now considering introducing Mallorca’s successful COVID passport for nightlife activities as the number of infections slowly rises again.


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