Thousands of people gathered in the capital of the Czech Republic over the weekend to take part in a protest against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations and other restrictions targeting unvaccinated individuals.
More than 6,000 activists reportedly massed in Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Jan. 30, according to rally organizers, demanding the authorities to listen to citizens’ calls.
“The state should listen to the people’s demands. The arrangements and restrictions lead us on the road to hell,” said Zuzana Vozabova, who banged a drum through the protest.
In footage from the rally, a large crowd of protesters can be seen marching while waving flags and chanting slogans as they moved towards the popular square that has the busiest pedestrian traffic in the whole country.
The protesters mainly objected to harsher restrictions for the unvaccinated, including a ban on eating in restaurants—calling the government’s COVID-19 policy discrimination of those who choose not to get vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19.
People wanting to dine in Czech restaurants are currently required to present a vaccination passport or a recent negative test. The same rules apply to many other indoor venues in the country such as museums and nightclubs.
According to health authorities, the country of 10.7 million reported its highest daily tally of CCP virus cases on Jan. 26—54,689, while the numbers on other recent days have ranked among the highest since the start of the epidemic about two years ago.
Despite an increase in cases, the government scrapped a decree last week making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for key professionals and over-60s to avoid “deepening fissures” in society.
The coalition of Prime Minister Petr Fiala has also shortened quarantine and isolation times as it braced for the Omicron variant, while launching mandatory testing of employees at companies.
Hospitalizations stood at 1,989 as of Jan. 29, far below the numbers of around 7,000 reported during the previous peak at the turn of last November and December.
The Czech Republic has reported 37,184 CCP virus deaths since the start of the pandemic, one of the world’s worst rates per capita.
In December, similar protests prompted by a government decree making COVID-19 shots mandatory for elderly people and employees in certain sectors erupted in the Czech capital. That day, about 4,000 people took to the streets in Prague after gathering on Wenceslas Square.
Reuters contributed to this report.