HELSINKI – Thousands gathered in European capitals on Saturday to protest against demands from vaccine passports and other governments to end the coronavirus pandemic.
The demonstrations were held in Athens, Greece; Helsinki; London; Paris; and Stockholm.
The marches in Paris gathered hundreds of protesters who opposed the introduction of a new covid-19 passport on Monday. It severely restricts the lives of those who refuse to be vaccinated by denying them access to domestic flights, sporting events, bars, cinemas and other leisure venues. French media reported that hundreds of protesters marched in other cities as well.
In Sweden, where a vaccine certificate is required to attend indoor events for more than 50 people, some 3,000 protesters marched through central Stockholm and gathered in the main square for a demonstration organized by the Frihetsrorelsen, a freedom movement.
Swedish media reported that representatives of the neo-Nazi Nordic resistance movement took part in the operation with the flag. Police closely monitor the group, which has been linked to violent behavior during the demonstrations.
Swedish security police had warned that far-rightists could take part in Saturday’s protests. No major incidents or clashes were reported by late afternoon.
A similar demonstration with about 1,000 participants was also held in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city.
Just before Christmas, the Finnish government authorized local and regional authorities to take “comprehensive and complete measures” due to increased virus cases of the omicron variant.
Restrictions included restricting or banning events, bringing university courses online, restricting restaurant service, and closing places where people are at higher risk of exposure. Restaurants and events may require a vaccine passport.
According to police, about 4,000 people marched on the streets of central Helsinki on Saturday to demonstrate. The demonstration was organized by a group called the World Wide Demonstration. Police were not notified of the unrest or violence.