Covid protests: the anger is growing

Demonstrations against tighter Covid restrictions in several European cities including Rotterdam, Vienna and Zagreb turned violent on the weekend. In Brussels, police used water cannons and tear gas when an initially peaceful demonstration of 35,000 people escalated. Europe's press fears a complete breakdown of social consensus and discusses positive examples.

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De Standaard (BE) /

The virus is more dangerous than the riots

Politicians must not let the violence at the demonstrations in Brussels distract them from decisions that are vital for many people, De Standaard insists:

“Many also know people whose operations have been postponed [due to the healthcare system being overstretched] or who are particularly threatened by the most recent wave of the epidemic. Such concerns are less visible than the images from Brussels. The protest is certainly a wake-up call. Conspiracy theories are contagious, and polarisation is dangerous. But even more contagious and dangerous is the virus itself. Fear of angry anti-vaxxers should not influence politics, but concern for angry cancer patients should.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Rome has set a good example

The example of Italy shows that a different approach can succeed, touts La Repubblica:

“What is maturing within the No Vax movement is the most intolerant and dangerous version of the populist rejection of democracy: it rejects the vaccine that protects collective health, identifies it with an oppressive state in order to delegitimise representative institutions. ... In this rejection of knowledge, in this sowing of hatred and in this spread of physical or digital violence lies the greatest danger to Europe's security and prosperity. ... As one of the countries best protected from the virus, Italy must continue to take courageous decisions and lead the way as an example of political stability and health credibility in the EU.”

Novi list (HR) /

Futile fatalism

The protesters are not offering a viable alternative, Novi list comments angrily:

“Citizens and governments can't just sit back and surrender to their fate, like those who oppose vaccination, Covid passes and tougher restrictions are demanding. Their unacceptable fatalism offers no solution to the rising Covid-19 mortality rates, to overcrowded hospitals or to further economic damage from the pandemic. These fatalists take no responsibility for the consequences of their words, for the welfare of their fellow human beings or for their own health. They're only interested in their own freedom.”

Aargauer Zeitung (CH) /

What if the people are given a choice?

On November 28, the Swiss are to vote on whether to abolish the requirement to present a Covid-19 certificate when visiting restaurants, cinemas and public buildings. The referendum is expected to fail. Perhaps the people should be given more responsibility, the Aargauer Zeitung reflects:

“The Federal Council [the Swiss government] is freely renouncing leadership. Perhaps that can work if the people take over. Individual responsibility weighs heavier in the balance here than in neighbouring countries; the spike in the number of cases in Germany and Austria should make it clear to everyone that caution is now the order of the day. Last year many adjusted their behaviour even before the lockdowns, simply because of the high incidence rate.”