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Tens of thousands protest COVID-19 measures in Vienna

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By Mark Armstrong  with AP
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People take part in a demonstration against measures to battle the coronavirus pandemic in Vienna, Austria, Saturday, 11 Dec. 2021.
People take part in a demonstration against measures to battle the coronavirus pandemic in Vienna, Austria, Saturday, 11 Dec. 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Florian Schroetter

Tens of thousands of people took part in a protest in Vienna against a COVID-19 vaccine mandate and lockdown of those who have not received the jab.

Police said around 44,000 people joined in the march, which was in part called for by the right-wing "Freedom Party of Austria".

The party's chief, Herbert Kickl, spoke at the rally and joined in the singing of the country's national anthem.

While the country's fourth national lockdown ends on Sunday, restrictions will remain for unvaccinated people.

Protests against COVID measures in other European countries

In Spain, thousands of people also marched peacefully through the centre of Madrid on Saturday in protest against the government's approach to the coronavirus.

Protesters, flanked by police vans, held banners reading "fake pandemic" and "I won't get vaccinated."

And there were similar scenes in Catalonia on Saturday where thousands turned out on the streets of Barcelona to protest against the introduction of COVID passes in the region.

Close to 90% of people eligible for vaccination have received two doses.

Further north in Luxembourg, several hundred people also protested over the weekend.

The rally was strictly controlled by a heavy police presence after a similar demonstration turned violent just days earlier.

COVID-19 restrictions have been tightened recently to include an obligatory health pass for access to leisure and hospitality premises to prove vaccination or recent recovery.