Anti-lockdown protests were seen in several European cities on Saturday in defiance of social distancing restrictions. From gatherings in London's Hyde Park to Poland to Germany -- people were furious about government-enforced lockdowns. Warmer weather trends, such as a heatwave across parts of Europe, could quickly affect mood negatively and lead to more social instabilities.
These protests have been increasing over the last several weeks. Read:
- "I Want My Life Back" - German Anti-Lockdown Protests Worsen
- Anti-lockdown Protesters Clash With German Police As Virus Spread Accelerates
Police in several German cities had their hands full on Saturday as thousands of people lined the streets. Officials in Stuttgart said the permitted number of 5,000 demonstrators was quickly exceeded, and mask-wearing was required, or people risked a 300 euro ($325) fine.
Nearly 5,000 people took part in a rally against #coronavirus restrictions in #Stuttgart on Saturday, #Germany's largest such protest over the weekend.— Ruptly (@Ruptly) May 17, 2020
On March 11, #Merkel said that the #lockdown measures were necessary in order "to win time in the fight against the virus." pic.twitter.com/dP5egTNKBV
About 1,000 protesters were seen in Munich, around the Theresienwiese event grounds, which is the site of the now-canceled Oktoberfest. We explained last month, the canceling of the event has severely impacted the local economy and could devastate local brewers to hop farmers.
Jetzt Anti-#Corona/Regierung/#Merkel-Proteste in #München. Deutsche Polizei sperrt Zugang zur Theresienwiese#Hygienedemos #coronavirus #Covid_19 #Covid19 #COVIDー19 #COVID2019 #COVID #COVID__19 #CoronaDemos #CoronavirusPandemic #CoronaVirusUpdate #lockdown #Germany #Coronakrise pic.twitter.com/5T1seEVujR— Faruk Firat (@FarukFirat1987) May 16, 2020
Protesters in both Stuttgart and Munich were angry about lockdown measures enforced via Chancellor Angela Merkel. Other demonstrators were mad about rumors of a vaccine plan by Bill Gates.
An anti-vaccine protester in Stuttgart
German protests were led by several groups, including Resistance 2020 and COMPACT. The first group questions official government data on confirmed cases and deaths, and alleges the government is overinflating the data to seize more control over the population. The second group describes itself as a "sharp sword against imperial propaganda."
"Why aren't you telling us the truth, Mrs Merkel? How we are losing our freedom, jobs and health?" says COMPACT.
Folks on social media described the German protesters as "covidiots" who risk triggering a second wave of infections that could lead to extensions or stricter lockdowns. We noted last week that this would undoubtedly continue to crash Germany's economy.
The economic effects of the countrywide lockdown have been devastating. Several weeks ago, we showed how the labor market had been obliterated.
Germany and other member states have begun to relax some lockdown restrictions, a move to restart the economy. Germany's professional soccer league resumed games over the weekend without fans -- as it appears reverting to pre-corona times will be a challenging and drawn-out process.
And for more color on reopening Europe, a border spat has erupted between Spain and France last week, suggesting a V-shaped recovery of the EU will not be seen this year.
Elsewhere, dozens of people in Poland were arrested for violating social distancing restrictions during protests. Police used tear gas to suppress demonstrators as the city of Warsaw said the gathering was illegal because there was no permit.
There have been further protests in Warsaw today against the government's lockdown measures and alleged lack of support for businesses.— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) May 16, 2020
Like last week, police clashed with and detained some protesters, including an opposition senator, Jacek Bury pic.twitter.com/eLAU4Um7bR
Britain saw anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protesters assemble in Hyde Park in central London and were met with police. Many chanted freedom songs and held signs blasting lockdowns. London Metropolitan Police Service arrested about a dozen people as police dispersed the crowd.
🚨 Jeremy Corbyn's brother was arrested during an anti-lockdown protest in Hyde Park yesterday— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) May 17, 2020
📣 Piers Corbyn was heard claiming that 5G and coronavirus are linked
📌 Follow the latest coronavirus news here: https://t.co/2d3zjQn3Ro pic.twitter.com/P0zXdKrivR
Anti-lockdown protesters were arrested in Hyde Park on Saturday at a rally to protest lockdown restrictions. While protesters faced off against police, others enjoyed a stroll round the London park pic.twitter.com/64wUOgBRjd— ANews (@anewscomtr) May 16, 2020
Across the Atlantic in the US, demonstrators held rallies requesting state governments to reopen economies so people can get back to work.
Reopen Nassau County/ Long Island Protest in East Meadow NY today! This is where I’m from 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/vDTHhIwqE8— Nick (@RickNauchbauer) May 17, 2020
Our ripple is spreading! Be proud Michiganders that our outcry has boiled over to other states!— Garrett Soldano (@GarrettSoldano) May 16, 2020
The image below is from the protest today called “ReOpen San Diego”. And they have an order in San Diego that says, “No gatherings of more than one person”.#StandUpMichigan pic.twitter.com/Z2VxBtE1DU
Joe Biden outs me as a Lib at the Reopen NY Protest to Anti-Vaxxers pic.twitter.com/P7TUJVd6pR— barely informed with elad 🕵🏻♂️ (@elaadeliahu) May 16, 2020
Large crowd at the Reopen Long Island protest today in East Meadow. Most were not wearing masks and obviously very close to one another. The crowd even chanted at one point “No More Masks! No More Masks! Reopen Nassau!!!” pic.twitter.com/pY2bRzKNzz— Nick (@RickNauchbauer) May 17, 2020
If a second COVID wave triggers additional lockdowns in the Western world -- people will likely become more infuriated with government and result in larger social demonstrations.