SAGE adviser says Europe Covid lockdown riots are a ‘warning to the UK’


European governments begin to reimpose Covid-19 measures 

As cases rise again, a number of European governments have started to reimpose limits on activity, ranging from Austria’s full lockdown to a partial lockdown in the Netherlands and restrictions on the unvaccinated in parts of Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. 

  • Austria is to reimpose full lockdown from Monday. Country will also mandate vaccines for everyone from February 1 
  • Partial lockdown introduced in The Netherlands on November 13, with limits on home visitors, working from home encouraged, and public events scrapped
  • German ministers say they can’t rule out full lockdown, with decision to be determined by hospitalisation rates
  • Restrictions imposed on the unvaccinated in Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia
  • Unvaccinated banned from restaurants in Germany 
  • Belgium ICU coordinator says there is an increasing risk country will have to resort to triage as cases mount
  • France’s Emmanuel Macron says he thinks high levels of vaccines will be enough to avoid future lockdowns
  • Britain, with higher infection numbers than most European countries, is rolling out booster jabs 

A SAGE adviser has moved to reassure Britons the UK will not see a spike in Covid-19 cases like Austria and Germany – but warned Europe’s soaring infection rate and lockdown riots should act as a ‘warning’ as he urged people to get their booster jabs.  

Professor John Edmunds said today that opposition to stringent restrictions on the continent have demonstrated the importance of booster jabs, warning, ‘it is pretty clear immunity does wane’. 

‘What you see now in central Europe with these rapid increase in cases, you see the importance of vaccination,’ Mr Edmunds told Sky. 

This comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was ‘very worried’ about the spread of Covid-19 within Europe as the continent battles a fresh wave of infections.

Regional director Dr Hans Kluge told the BBC that some 500,000 more deaths could be recorded by March unless urgent action is taken.

But Mr Edmunds said the UK was unlikely to be hit by the Christmas chaos because the country ‘is in a slightly different position’.

This comes amid a fresh wave of Covid infections on the continent that has sent nations back into draconian restrictions and could see excess deaths start to rise again.

Italy is considering a lockdown of the unvaccinated, it emerged yesterday, which would make it the latest country to impose the controversial intervention after Austria announced lockdown would return on Monday.

And Germany’s incoming government has said that it wants unvaccinated people to be barred from going to work and travelling on public transport amid what Angela Merkel calls ‘dramatic’ infection levels. The Netherlands has also introduced a 7pm curfew for pubs and restaurants amid rising cases there.

Both Austria and the Czech Republic have announced the return of lockdowns from Monday, with Germany poised to follow suit after health officials warned they cannot rule out a full shutdown. 

Meanwhile, Slovakia intends to bring in harsher restrictions if its current lockdown of unvaccinated people does not curb the rise in cases. 

The reintroduction of restrictions across Europe have sparked a fierce backlash and fevered protests broke out in cities including Rotterdam overnight, where riot police fired warning shots – injuring protestors marching against the Covid measures.

Today, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Vienna with the far-right opposition Freedom Party among those who have called for the protest and vowed to combat the new restrictions.

Demonstrations against virus measures are also expected in other European countries including Switzerland, Croatia and Italy. 

The British Government has repeatedly rejected pleas to implement its Plan B, which would see similar measures to what are being levied on Ireland. But Boris Johnson has admitted a full-blown lockdown could still be on the cards if cases spike. 

On a day of heightened tension across the continent; 

  • Department of Health posted another 44,242 Covid infections and 157 deaths linked to the virus last night;
  • Latest UK hospitalisations fell by a fifth after 827 more admissions were recorded in the country’s wards;
  • Austria made Covid vaccines compulsory for all residents and imposed a full nationwide lockdown;
  • Fevered protests broke out in cities including Rotterdam overnight, as tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Vienna

Riots and protests have broken out in cities including Rotterdam where police were forced to fire warning shots at protestors marching against the Covid control measures. Pictured: Scenes from Rotterdam filmed last night during the  Netherland riots

Riots and protests have broken out in cities including Rotterdam where police were forced to fire warning shots at protestors marching against the Covid control measures. Pictured: Scenes from Rotterdam filmed last night during the  Netherland riots

Demonstrators gather during a rally held by Austria's far-right Freedom Party FPOe against the measures taken to curb Covid

Demonstrators gather during a rally held by Austria’s far-right Freedom Party FPOe against the measures taken to curb Covid

Pictured: A scooter set on fire during a protest against the 2G policy in Rotterdam, Netherlands, which took place last night

Pictured: A scooter set on fire during a protest against the 2G policy in Rotterdam, Netherlands, which took place last night

AUSTRIA: A protester, with a sign reading 'No Covid vaccine', joins thousands of people demonstrating against Austria's new Covid restrictions which are set to come into force on Monday as countries across Europe race to curb a spike in Covid cases

AUSTRIA: A protester, with a sign reading ‘No Covid vaccine’, joins thousands of people demonstrating against Austria’s new Covid restrictions which are set to come into force on Monday as countries across Europe race to curb a spike in Covid cases

Saturday's demonstration in Vienna (pictured) is the latest in rising anger at restrictions amid soaring cases on the continent

Saturday’s demonstration in Vienna (pictured) is the latest in rising anger at restrictions amid soaring cases on the continent 

He added: ‘Frankly here in the UK, we’ve had high rates of infection for many months now so we’re in a slightly different position to Austria and Germany and so on.

‘I don’t think things will quite happen in the same way here as they have done there. But it is a warning to us. I think it’s pretty clear that immunity does wane.

‘I’m sure you do still have some protection from the vaccine but it’s nowhere near as strong as shortly after you’ve been vaccinated. It’s very clear the booster doses do give a very clear boost to your immune system.’

Asked whether the Government should re-introduce control measures, Mr Edmunds told Sky: ‘The plan B measures, we could’ve implemented them at any point. It’s a government decision whether to take that step.

‘They have to look at the potential effectiveness and measure that against the potential cost of some of those things.’

Last week the WHO warned the continent was now the epicentre of the pandemic and said the surge in infection was ‘alarming’.

Speaking to the BBC, regional director Dr Hans Kluge predicted 500,000 more deaths could be recorded on the continent by March unless urgent action is taken. 

He said: ‘Covid-19 has become once again the number one cause of mortality in our region.’

Dr Kluge said mandatory vaccination measures should be seen as a ‘last resort’, adding: ‘Before that there are other means like the Covid pass.

He said this is ‘not a restriction of liberty, rather it is a tool to keep our individual freedom’, according to the BBC.

It comes as ten thousand people are expected to protest against Covid-19 restrictions in Vienna today after the Austrian government announced a nationwide lockdown to contain the rapidly rising coronavirus infections in the country.

Meanwhile, at least two people were shot and five others injured in Rotterdam last night as Dutch riot police opened fire on protesters as anti-lockdown demonstrations turned into an ‘orgy of violence’.

Demonstrations against virus measures are also expected in other European countries including Switzerland, Croatia and Italy – the latest in rising anger at the re-introduction of restrictions amid soaring cases on the continent. 

The violent scenes came amid a rising anger at coronavirus measures across Europe, with Austria introducing a full lockdown from Monday, and German ministers not ruling out following its neighbour’s lockdown lead. 

Professor John Edmunds told Sky News this morning that the situation in Europe should act as a warning to the UK

Professor John Edmunds told Sky News this morning that the situation in Europe should act as a warning to the UK

At least one person was shot and six more injured in Rotterdam last night as Dutch riot police opened fire on protesters

At least one person was shot and six more injured in Rotterdam last night as Dutch riot police opened fire on protesters

Rioters set vehicles ablaze as anti-lockdown protests turned to riots in Coolsingel street, Rotterdam, on Friday evening

Rioters set vehicles ablaze as anti-lockdown protests turned to riots in Coolsingel street, Rotterdam, on Friday evening

Restrictions have also been placed on the unvaccinated in Germany – where they have been banned from restaurants – as well as in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Austria becomes first EU country to mandate jabs 

Austria on Friday became the first EU country to announce it would make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory and will next week impose a partial lockdown in the face of spiralling infections.

The lockdown, which comes into effect on Monday, constitutes the toughest restrictions introduced in Europe in recent weeks as Covid-19 cases surge continent-wide, fuelled by vaccine resistance.

Austrians will not be allowed to leave home except to go to work, shop for essentials and exercise. The restrictions will initially last 20 days with an evaluation after 10 days, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said.

Schools will remain open, although parents have been asked to keep their children at home if possible. Working from home is also recommended.

Vaccination against Covid-19 in the Alpine nation will be mandatory from February 1 next year, Schallenberg said. So far, the Vatican alone in Europe has imposed a vaccination mandate. 

Austria has already imposed movement restrictions on those not vaccinated or recently recovered from the virus, ordering them to stay at home since Monday, becoming the first EU country to do so.

But infections have continued to rise. On Friday, a new record of more than 15,800 new cases was recorded in the EU member of nearly nine million people.

The Dutch government has said it wants to introduce a law that would allow businesses to restrict the country’s coronavirus pass system to only people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 — that would exclude people who test negative. 

Police spokesperson Patricia Wessels confirmed that police fired shots, though it was not immediately clear what type of rounds were fired.

‘We fired warning shots and there were also direct shots fired because the situation was life-threatening,’ she said. ‘We know that at least two people were wounded, probably as a result of the warning shots, but we need to investigate the exact causes further.’ 

 Late on Friday night, police said downtown Rotterdam remained restive and there was still a heavy police presence on the streets. Organisers of a planned protest Saturday in Amsterdam against the coronavirus measures said they had canceled the event after Friday’s violence.   

A musical protest called by DJs in the southern city of Breda against current Covid-19 measures, which include the 8pm closure of bars, restaurants and clubs, will go ahead. Organisers say they expect several thousand people. 

The Netherlands re-imposed some lockdown measures last weekend for an initial three weeks in an effort to slow a resurgence of coronavirus contagion, but daily infections have remained at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Britain’s daily Covid cases rose by another 10 per cent yesterday and deaths ticked upwards — but hospitalisations plunged 17 per cent.

Government dashboard data showed 44,242 positive tests were registered in the last 24 hours yesterday, a slight uptick from 40,375 last Friday.

Infections trended upwards every day since November 11 except for one blip, with data suggesting cases are now rising in children following the return of schools from half-term.

Another 157 Covid deaths were also announced by health chiefs, in an eight per cent rise from the same time the previous week. Latest hospitalisation figures showed 827 admissions were recorded on November 15, which was down 17 per cent. 

Fears of another Christmas lockdown were sparked this week when Boris Johnson admitted that the drastic action was not completely off the cards at a Downing Street press conference. 

But the Prime Minister also said there was still nothing to suggest England needed to ramp up its Covid restrictions. 

He urged people to get their booster vaccines and warned of Europe’s spiralling crisis, which saw Austria become the first country to impose another lockdown.

Prof Edmunds yesterday told BBC Radio 4’s the World at One programme: ‘I think there’s a risk because of waning immunity in older individuals – and that’s all adults, not just the elderly – that cases could really take off.

‘It’s really important that we boost immunity in older individuals and then we might be able to avoid any significant fourth wave.

‘We’re going to have high levels of infection for many months, so I think the NHS will unfortunately be under significant strain. It may not get to breaking point, where we were close to before, but significant strain for a very long period of time is certainly on the cards.’

 

Europe’s anti-lockdown hell: Violence breaks out in Vienna as 10,000 protesters take to the streets and ‘two people’ are SHOT in Rotterdam after activists clashed with Dutch riot police

  • Violence erupted in Vienna today as 10,000 protesters took to the streets after new lockdown was announced
  • Two people were shot during an ‘orgy of violence’ amid anti-lockdown protests in Rotterdam Friday evening
  • Police confirmed the injuries to the rioters, but did not clarify what type of ammunition was used against them
  • Police fired water canons as demonstrators lit fires and set off fireworks in Rotterdam’s busy shopping district
  • The Netherlands entered a partial lockdown on Saturday, sparking a furious backlash against the government 
  • Austria on Friday reimposed a full winter lockdown and neighbouring Germany warned it may soon follow suit

European governments begin to reimpose Covid-19 measures 

As cases rise again, a number of European governments have started to reimpose limits on activity, ranging from Austria’s full lockdown to a partial lockdown in the Netherlands and restrictions on the unvaccinated in parts of Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. 

  • Austria is to reimpose full lockdown from Monday. Country will also mandate vaccines for everyone from February 1 
  • Partial lockdown introduced in The Netherlands on November 13, with limits on home visitors, working from home encouraged, and public events scrapped
  • German ministers say they can’t rule out full lockdown, with decision to be determined by hospitalisation rates
  • Restrictions imposed on the unvaccinated in Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia
  • Unvaccinated banned from restaurants in Germany 
  • Belgium ICU coordinator says there is an increasing risk country will have to resort to triage as cases mount
  • France’s Emmanuel Macron says he thinks high levels of vaccines will be enough to avoid future lockdowns
  • Britain, with higher infection numbers than most European countries, is rolling out booster jabs 

Violence today broke out in Vienna after 10,000 protesters took to the streets to demonstrate against a new Covid-19 lockdown and mandatory vaccinations. 

It comes after two people were shot and six others injured in Rotterdam last night after activists clashed with Dutch riot police in a demonstration condemned as an ‘orgy of violence’. 

Demonstrations against virus measures are also expected in other European countries including Switzerland, Croatia and Italy – the latest in rising anger at the re-introduction of restrictions amid soaring cases on the continent

Last week, the World Health Organisation warned Europe was the epicentre of the pandemic and said the rise in cases was ‘alarming’, nudging governments to reimpose measures ahead of the Christmas period.  

As the march kicked off on Vienna’s Heldenplatz, thousands of protesters gathered on the massive square. About 1,300 police officers were on duty. They used loudspeakers to tell protesters masks were required, but most did not wear them.

Chanting ‘resistance!’ and blowing whistles, protesters began to move slowly down the city’s inner ring road. Many waved Austrian flags and carried signs mocking government leaders like Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg and Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein.

Some wore doctor’s scrubs; others donned tinfoil hats. Most of the signs focused on the newly announced vaccine mandate: ‘My Body, My Choice,’ read one. ‘We’re Standing Up for Our Kids!’ said another.  

Police were pictured arrested two protesters but have not yet confirmed how many people have been detained at the Vienna demonstration. 

Last night, thousands of anti-lockdown protesters gathered in one of Rotterdam’s main shopping streets last night, one week after the government imposed a partial shutdown.     

Dutch police fired water canons, ‘warning shots’ and bullets at protesters to disperse the crowd who had lit fires and set off fireworks. 

Police confirmed seven injuries, including officers, in the violence but did not say if live ammunition or rubber bullets were fired.

The Netherlands re-imposed some lockdown measures last weekend for an initial three weeks in an effort to slow a resurgence of coronavirus contagion, but daily infections have remained at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic. 

The Dutch government has said it wants to introduce a law that would allow businesses to restrict the country’s coronavirus pass system to only people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 — that would exclude people who test negative.   

The violent scenes in Rotterdam mirror much of the continent’s reaction to similar schemes announced by Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia – with Italy and Greece also reportedly considering moves to restrict the movements of unvaccinated people.  

Pictured: Police officers arrest a protester during a demonstration against new Covid-19 restrictions, including a lockdown from Monday and mandatory vaccines from February 1, announced by the Austria government yesterday afternoon

Pictured: Police officers arrest a protester during a demonstration against new Covid-19 restrictions, including a lockdown from Monday and mandatory vaccines from February 1, announced by the Austria government yesterday afternoon

Demonstrators wave the flag of the Austrian far-right Freedom Party during a rally against a new national lockdown today

Demonstrators wave the flag of the Austrian far-right Freedom Party during a rally against a new national lockdown today

A protester wears a respirator mask during a demo against the measures of the Austrian government to slow surging Covid-19

A protester wears a respirator mask during a demo against the measures of the Austrian government to slow surging Covid-19

Pictured: police officers detain a man during a demonstration on Vienna's Heldenplatz in which thousands of protesters gathered on the massive square. They used loudspeakers to tell protesters masks were required, but most did not wear them

Pictured: police officers detain a man during a demonstration on Vienna’s Heldenplatz in which thousands of protesters gathered on the massive square. They used loudspeakers to tell protesters masks were required, but most did not wear them

Thousands of people today took part in a demonstration in Vienna against the country's Covid-19 restrictions after the government said yesterday Austria would go back into lockdown from Monday and make vaccinations mandatory

Thousands of people today took part in a demonstration in Vienna against the country’s Covid-19 restrictions after the government said yesterday Austria would go back into lockdown from Monday and make vaccinations mandatory

A protester, with a sign reading 'No Covid vaccine', joins thousands of people demonstrating in Vienna against Covid rules

A protester, with a sign reading ‘No Covid vaccine’, joins thousands of people demonstrating in Vienna against Covid rules

Thousands of Austrians - one holding a sign reading 'no to mandatory vaccination' - today gathered in Vienna to demonstrate against the new Covid restrictions which will come into effect on Monday amid soaring infection rates across the continent

Thousands of Austrians – one holding a sign reading ‘no to mandatory vaccination’ – today gathered in Vienna to demonstrate against the new Covid restrictions which will come into effect on Monday amid soaring infection rates across the continent

Piles of burned bikes lay strewn across the streets of Rotterdam on Saturday morning following anti-lockdown protests after the government announced its 2G policy, restricted unvaccinated people's access to certain venues

Piles of burned bikes lay strewn across the streets of Rotterdam on Saturday morning following anti-lockdown protests after the government announced its 2G policy, restricted unvaccinated people’s access to certain venues

Pictured: A scooter set on fire during a protest against the 2G policy in Coolsingel, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 19 November 2021. Hundreds of demonstrators have gathered to protest against the tightened coronavirus measures

Pictured: A scooter set on fire during a protest against the 2G policy in Coolsingel, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 19 November 2021. Hundreds of demonstrators have gathered to protest against the tightened coronavirus measures

Police restrain protester as anti-lockdown demonstrations in Coolsingel Street in Rotterdam turned violent yesterday evening

Police restrain protester as anti-lockdown demonstrations in Coolsingel Street in Rotterdam turned violent yesterday evening

Demonstrators climb on a fence in Vienna, Austria, to gain a better vantage point over protests over new restrictions today

Demonstrators climb on a fence in Vienna, Austria, to gain a better vantage point over protests over new restrictions today

The above graph shows the Covid infection rate per million people for western European countries from November last year. It reveals that Slovakia has the highest infection rate in the region, followed closely by Austria

The above graph shows the Covid infection rate per million people for western European countries from November last year. It reveals that Slovakia has the highest infection rate in the region, followed closely by Austria

Austria becomes first EU country to mandate jabs 

Austria on Friday became the first EU country to announce it would make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory and will next week impose a partial lockdown in the face of spiralling infections.

The lockdown, which comes into effect on Monday, constitutes the toughest restrictions introduced in Europe in recent weeks as Covid-19 cases surge continent-wide, fuelled by vaccine resistance.

Austrians will not be allowed to leave home except to go to work, shop for essentials and exercise. The restrictions will initially last 20 days with an evaluation after 10 days, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said. 

Vaccination against Covid-19 in the Alpine nation will be mandatory from February 1 next year, Schallenberg said. So far, the Vatican alone in Europe has imposed a vaccination mandate.

The World Health Organization continues to favour policies that ‘demonstrate the benefit and safety of vaccines for the greatest possible acceptance of vaccines, rather than imposed mandatory vaccination,’ spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told reporters in Geneva. 

Austria has already imposed movement restrictions on those not vaccinated or recently recovered from the virus, ordering them to stay at home since Monday, becoming the first EU country to do so.

But infections have continued to rise. On Friday, a new record of more than 15,800 new cases was recorded in the EU member of nearly nine million people.

Reporting by AFP  

Austrians are protesting against a new national lockdown and mandatory vaccinations, which the government said yesterday would be rolled out on February 1.   

Vaccinations in Austria have plateaued at one of the lowest rates in Western Europe – under 66 per cent – and hospitals in heavily hit states have warned that their intensive care units are reaching capacity.  

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said yesterday the country would go in lockdown for 10 days. 

The shutdown will then reevaluated and could be extended for a further 10 days.  

Most stores will close, and cultural events will be canceled. 

People will be able to leave their homes only for certain specific reasons, including buying groceries, going to the doctor or exercising. 

Average daily deaths have tripled in recent weeks and its infections are among the highest in Europe, with a seven-day incidence of 991 per 100,000 people. 

‘We have not succeeded in convincing enough people to get vaccinated,’ Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told a news conference.

‘It hurts that such measures still have to be taken.’

Schallenberg also apologised to all vaccinated people on Friday night saying it was not fair they had to suffer under the renewed lockdown restrictions when they had done everything to help contain the virus.

‘I’m sorry to take this drastic step,’ he said on public broadcaster ORF. 

Meanwhile organisers of a planned protest Saturday in Amsterdam against the coronavirus measures said they had canceled the event after Friday’s violence. 

A musical protest called by DJs in the southern city of Breda against current Covid-19 measures, which include the 8 pm closure of bars, restaurants and clubs, will go ahead. 

Organisers say they expect several thousand people to attend.  

Saturday's demonstration in Vienna (pictured) is the latest  in rising anger at the restrictions amid soaring cases in Europe

Saturday’s demonstration in Vienna (pictured) is the latest  in rising anger at the restrictions amid soaring cases in Europe

Pictured: A demonstrator in Vienna holds a placard asking 'European friends' to 'help us' after the Austrian government yesterday announced the country would go back into lockdown from Monday, sparking widespread anger across the country

Pictured: A demonstrator in Vienna holds a placard asking ‘European friends’ to ‘help us’ after the Austrian government yesterday announced the country would go back into lockdown from Monday, sparking widespread anger across the country

People take part in a demonstration against the country's coronavirus restrictions in Vienna, Austria, on Saturday afternoon

People take part in a demonstration against the country’s coronavirus restrictions in Vienna, Austria, on Saturday afternoon

Protestors with a banner which reads 'Control the borders' attend a demonstration against measures to battle Covid in Vienna

Protestors with a banner which reads ‘Control the borders’ attend a demonstration against measures to battle Covid in Vienna

Demonstrators hold up banners during a rally held by Austria's far-right Freedom Party against government's latest measures

Demonstrators hold up banners during a rally held by Austria’s far-right Freedom Party against government’s latest measures

Covid-19 infections soar in the Czech Republic 

Coronavirus infection rates in the Czech Republic have hit a new record for the second time this week, the Health Ministry said.

It announced that the daily tally jumped to 22,936 on Friday, almost 500 more than the previous record set on Tuesday.

The country’s infection rate has risen to 929 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days.

In a worrying sign, 110 people died on Thursday, the ministry said, with the daily death toll surpassing 100 for the first time since April.

The government has approved new restrictions to tackle the surge, targeting the unvaccinated in an effort to increase a vaccination rate that is below the European Union average.

Starting on Monday, most unvaccinated people will no longer be allowed to show negative coronavirus tests in order to attend public events, go to bars and restaurants, visit hairdressers, museums and similar facilities or use hotels.

Only people who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will remain eligible. Overall, the nation of 10.7 million has registered almost two million cases with 32,005 deaths.

 

Footage from the Rotterdam violence showed burnt out police cars and rioters throwing fireworks and rocks at police, while photos in Dutch media showed at least one police car ablaze and another with a bicycle smashed through the windshield.

Local news outlet NL Times reported that a journalist was attacked of the street, while local broadcaster Rijnmond said the reporter was beaten and his camera was destroyed. Local media also reported gangs of soccer hooligans were involved in the rioting. 

One eyewitness – a press photographer – told local media they saw shell casings ‘everywhere on the floor’. 

Cops also said it was ‘unclear how or by whom’ two people were shot during the chaos. Video from social media on Dutch broadcaster NOS appeared to show the person being hit in Rotterdam, but there was no explanation on what happened. 

Officers arrested dozens of protesters last night and were expected to detain several more after studying video footage from security cameras.  

Late on Friday night, police said downtown Rotterdam remained restive and there was still a heavy police presence on the streets. 

Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb told reporters in the early hours of Saturday morning that ‘on a number of occasions the police felt it necessary to draw their weapons to defend themselves’ as rioters ran rampage through the port city’s central shopping district, setting fires and throwing rocks and fireworks at officers.

‘They shot at protesters, people were injured,’ Aboutaleb said, adding that several officers were injured in the violence.

Police spokesperson Patricia Wessels confirmed that police fired shots, though it was not immediately clear what type of rounds were fired.

‘We fired warning shots and there were also direct shots fired because the situation was life-threatening,’ she said. ‘We know that at least two people were wounded, probably as a result of the warning shots, but we need to investigate the exact causes further.’ 

Police said that riot police later launched charges at the demonstrators, adding: ‘The water launcher has been deployed.’ 

The situation had largely calmed late on Friday but the smoking wreckage of a burned-out police car and dozens of smashed bicycles littered the scene, an AFP reporter said.

Riot police carrying shields and batons were directing groups of people away from the area. Officers on horseback and in police vans patrolled the streets.

Police also cordoned off several scenes to comb for evidence, with a human finger visible on the ground at one of them, the AFP correspondent said.

‘Most of the demonstrators are now gone. There only remain a few groups in a few places,’ police spokesman Jesse Brobbel told AFP. 

Dutch Police (pictured last night) tweeted that rioters started fires and threw fireworks during the rioting and authorities closed the city's main railway station as officers lined up on the streets of Rotterdam amid chaotic scenes in the Netherlands

Dutch Police (pictured last night) tweeted that rioters started fires and threw fireworks during the rioting and authorities closed the city’s main railway station as officers lined up on the streets of Rotterdam amid chaotic scenes in the Netherlands

Pictured: A scooter is seen set ablaze in Rotterdam on Friday night as people too to the streets against Covid restrictions

Pictured: A scooter is seen set ablaze in Rotterdam on Friday night as people too to the streets against Covid restrictions

A scooter in Rotterdam city centre that was burnt out during anti-lockdown riots on Friday night after thousands of people took to the streets over the government's 2G policy that restricts unvaccinated people from certain venues

A scooter in Rotterdam city centre that was burnt out during anti-lockdown riots on Friday night after thousands of people took to the streets over the government’s 2G policy that restricts unvaccinated people from certain venues

People gather during a protest against the 2G (Covid-pass) policy in Coolsingel, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 19 November 2021

People gather during a protest against the 2G (Covid-pass) policy in Coolsingel, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 19 November 2021

Demonstrators take part in a protest against a partial  lockdown on Coolsingel street last night in the port city of Rotterdam

Demonstrators take part in a protest against a partial  lockdown on Coolsingel street last night in the port city of Rotterdam

Pictured: A grab from footage that appeared to show a person being shot in Rotterdam on Friday night (circled)

Pictured: A grab from video showing a police officer in Rotterdam being kicked over on Friday night

Pictured Left: A grab from video footage that appeared to show a person being shot in Rotterdam on Friday night (circled). Pictured Right: A grab showing the moment a police officer was kicked over in the violent riots which were captured on video

Damaged police cars and bikes littered the streets after an anti-lockdown protest turned into the riots in Rotterdam on Friday

Damaged police cars and bikes littered the streets after an anti-lockdown protest turned into the riots in Rotterdam on Friday 

A burned police car surrounded by warped bike frames seen on the streets of Rotterdam early on Saturday after Friday's riot

A burned police car surrounded by warped bike frames seen on the streets of Rotterdam early on Saturday after Friday’s riot

Carnage lined streets of Rotterdam on Saturday morning after a night of violent demonstrations in which one person was shot

Carnage lined streets of Rotterdam on Saturday morning after a night of violent demonstrations in which one person was shot

There appeared to be dried blood on the streets of Rotterdam on Saturday following violent anti-lockdown protests in the city

There appeared to be dried blood on the streets of Rotterdam on Saturday following violent anti-lockdown protests in the city

Britain’s SAGE adviser says UK WON’T see a spike in Covid cases but warns Europe lockdown riots are a ‘warning to us’

A SAGE adviser has moved to reassure Britons the UK will not see a spike in Covid-19 cases like Austria and Germany – but warned Europe’s lockdown riots should act as a ‘warning’ and urged people to get their booster jabs.  

Professor John Edmund said today that opposition to stringent restrictions on the continent have demonstrated the importance of booster jabs, warning, ‘it is pretty clear immunity does wane’.    

‘What you see now in central Europe with these rapid increase in cases, you see the importance of vaccination,’ Mr Edmund told Sky. 

But Mr Edmund said the UK was unlikely to be hit by the Christmas chaos because the country ‘is in a slightly different position.’ 

He added: ‘Frankly here in the UK, we’ve had high rates of infection for many months now so we’re in a slightly different position to Austria and Germany and so on.

‘I don’t think things will quite happen in the same way here as they have done there. But it is a warning to us. I think it’s pretty clear that immunity does wane.

‘I’m sure you do still have some protection from the vaccine but it’s nowhere near as strong as shortly after you’ve been vaccinated. It’s very clear the booster doses do give a very clear boost to your immune system.’

Asked whether the Government should re-introduce control measures, Mr Edmund told Sky: ‘The plan B measures, we could’ve implemented them at any point. It’s a government decision whether to take that step.

‘They have to look at the potential effectiveness and measure that against the potential cost of some of those things.’

Dutch justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus said in a statement that the ‘extreme violence’ against police and fire fighters in Rotterdam was ‘repulsive’.

‘The right to protest is very important in our society but what we saw last night was simply criminal behaviour,’ Grapperhaus said.  

Dutch police said units from around the country were brought in to ‘restore order’ to Rotterdam.

‘Dozens of arrests have now been made, it is expected that more arrests will follow. Around seven people have been injured, including on the side of the police,’ a police statement said.  

At least one police car was set on fire during the protest, a police spokesman confirmed to AFP. The spokesperson could not confirm the number of people injured. 

Several electric scooters and other items were also torched, with several hundred protesters involved in the riots, images on Dutch media and social media showed. 

Local authorities issued an emergency order banning people from gathering in the area in a bid to prevent further violence, and the authorities also called on bystanders and people who recorded images of the riots to send the footage to police for further investigation.

Police tweeted that rioters started fires and threw fireworks during the rioting and authorities closed the city’s main railway station.  

The several hundred people had gathered to voice opposition to government plans to restrict access to indoor venues to people who have a ‘corona pass’ showing they have been vaccinated or already recovered from an infection.

The pass is also available to people who have not been vaccinated, but have proof of a negative test. 

‘This is a very serious situation which requires action with the highest priority,’ said the emergency order by the Rotterdam municipality. ‘It is therefore necessary to issue this emergency order so as to maintain public order and to protect the safety of persons.’ 

Local political party Leefbaar Rotterdam condemned the violence in a tweet. ‘The centre of our beautiful city has this evening transformed into a war zone,’ it said. ‘Rotterdam is a city where you can disagree with things that happen but violence is never, never, the solution.’ 

Like much of the rest of Europe, the Netherlands has seen Covid cases soar to record levels in recent days, with more than 21,000 new infections reported on Friday.

The latest restrictions were announced on November 12, and sparked clashes between demonstrators and police outside the justice ministry in The Hague. 

The restrictions came into force the following day, shuttering bars, restaurants, cafes and supermarkets at 8:00 pm daily, while non-essential shops must shut at 6:00 pm.

People are limited to having four visitors at home and have been advised to work at home unless absolutely necessary. Public events have been scrapped while football matches must be played behind closed doors. 

Schools however remain open, and people are allowed to leave their homes without restrictions. The Dutch government has said it will review the situation on December 3.

It is considering excluding the unvaccinated from bars and restaurants, limiting admittance to people who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from the disease, but there was significant opposition to the plan during a debate in parliament this week. 

Pictured: A burning car and bikes are seen on the streets of Rotterdam on Friday night

Pictured: A burning car and bikes are seen on the streets of Rotterdam on Friday night

Pictured: A torched police car is shown in a still grab from a video on Friday night taken amid riots against Covid measures

Pictured: A torched police car is shown in a still grab from a video on Friday night taken amid riots against Covid measures

Pictured: Still grabs from video shot from a nearby building show fires on the streets of Rotterdam on Friday night amid riots

Pictured: Still grabs from video shot from a nearby building show fires on the streets of Rotterdam on Friday night amid riots

Pictured: Still grabs from video shot from a nearby building show fires on the streets of Rotterdam on Friday night amid riots

The Netherlands suffered its worst riots in four decades in January after a night-time Covid curfew, the country’s first since World War II, came into force. 

Earlier Friday, the government banned fireworks on Dec. 31 for the second straight year. The ban is intended ‘to prevent, as much as possible, extra strain on health care, law enforcement and first responders,’ the government said Friday. 

The riots in Rotterdam come after Austria said on Friday that it will become the first country in western Europe to reimpose a full Covid-19 lockdown, while neighbouring Germany warned it may follow suit, sending shivers through financial markets worried about the economic fallout. 

Restrictions have also been placed on the unvaccinated in Germany – where they have been banned from restaurants – as well as in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.  

Pictured: Riots in Rotterdam as seen from a nearby building

Pictured: Riots in Rotterdam as seen from a nearby building

Pictured: Riots in Rotterdam on Friday night as seen in a video captured from a nearby building

Pictured: A flare is seen on the streets of Rotterdam near a police car amid clashes between protesters and the authorities

Pictured: A flare is seen on the streets of Rotterdam near a police car amid clashes between protesters and the authorities

Pictured: The aftermath of the riots in Rotterdam on Friday night that saw people take to the streets over Covid measures

Pictured: The aftermath of the riots in Rotterdam on Friday night that saw people take to the streets over Covid measures

The situation had largely calmed later but the smoking wreckage of a burned-out police car and dozens of smashed bicycles littered the scene, pictures from Rotterdam on Friday showed

The situation had largely calmed later but the smoking wreckage of a burned-out police car and dozens of smashed bicycles littered the scene, pictures from Rotterdam on Friday showed

First German states cancel all Christmas markets over virus 

The German states of Bavaria and Saxony on Friday cancelled all their Christmas markets and unveiled drastic curbs on public life as the country scrambles to contain soaring coronavirus infections.

‘The situation is very, very serious and difficult,’ Markus Soeder, premier of the southern state of Bavaria, said as he also announced a shutdown of clubs, bars and night service at restaurants.

The eastern state of Saxony unveiled similar measures and went even further by closing all sporting and cultural venues, banning tourism, public consumption of alcohol and barring the unvaccinated from non-essential shops and hairdressers.

Saxony premier Michael Kretschmer – whose state has Germany’s lowest vaccination rate at just under 60 percent of the population – admitted that many of the restrictions would affect the vaccinated as well.

But he said tough action was needed to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed and called for ‘solidarity’ from all citizens. ‘We need more ‘we’ and less ‘I’ in this pandemic,’ he told reporters.

Bavaria and Saxony are among the hardest hit regions in the ferocious fourth Covid wave sweeping Germany. 

Reporting by AFP 

Following the announcement, Freedom Party leader Herbert Kickl posted a picture on Facebook with the inscription: ‘As of today Austria is a dictatorship.’ 

The party is planning a protest on Saturday, but Kickl cannot attend because he has tested positive for Covid-19 and must self-isolate for 14 days.

Europe has again become the epicentre of the pandemic, accounting for half of global cases and deaths, the WHO said. 

A fourth wave of infections has plunged Germany, Europe’s largest economy, into a national emergency, Health Minister Jens Spahn said, warning that vaccinations alone will not cut case numbers. 

Both decisions infuriated many in a country where scepticism about state mandates affecting individual freedoms runs high, encouraged by the far-right Freedom Party, the third biggest in parliament.  

Asked if Germany could rule out an Austrian-style full lockdown, Spahn said: ‘We are now in a situation – even if this produces a news alert – where we can’t rule anything out. ‘We are in a national emergency,’ he told a news conference.  

Looming lockdowns weighed on a range of financial market sectors on Friday, pushing stocks and oil down and boosting the dollar.

‘We expect targeted measures (against COVID-19) across some countries mainly according to the health situation, but other factors, such as domestic political situations, will be relevant,’ Oxford Economics analysts said in a note.

‘And while it might take a while before a political consensus can be reached in other countries, it is clear that the tide has turned.’ 

As cases rise again, a number of European governments have started to reimpose limits on activity, ranging from Austria’s full lockdown to a partial lockdown in the Netherlands and restrictions on the unvaccinated in parts of Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Niels Van Regenmortel, the intensive care units coordinator at the ZNA Stuivenberg hospital in Antwerp, said there was an increasing risk hospitals in Belgium will have to resort to triage as ICUs fill up amid soaring COVID-19 numbers, calling on the government to restrict night life. 

Crowds in some places in Breda, The Netherlands with people going home after the closing of the catering industry in the city. The catering industry has to close at 8pm due to a coronavirus curfew

Crowds in some places in Breda, The Netherlands with people going home after the closing of the catering industry in the city. The catering industry has to close at 8pm due to a coronavirus curfew

Pictured: People are seen walking through the streets of Breda in The Netherlands after restaurants and bars closed at 8pm

Pictured: People are seen walking through the streets of Breda in The Netherlands after restaurants and bars closed at 8pm

Pictured: Empty tables are seen in Breda in The Netherlands after restaurants and bars closed at 8pm due to the Covid curfew

Pictured: Empty tables are seen in Breda in The Netherlands after restaurants and bars closed at 8pm due to the Covid curfew

This graph shows the number of daily Covid tests carried out per 1,000 people. It also shows that Sweden is carrying out the fewest number of tests. It has told double-vaccinated people not to get swabbed for the virus because they face very little risk from it, although this advice will be reversed from December 1

This graph shows the number of daily Covid tests carried out per 1,000 people. It also shows that Sweden is carrying out the fewest number of tests. It has told double-vaccinated people not to get swabbed for the virus because they face very little risk from it, although this advice will be reversed from December 1

The above graph shows the proportion of the population that has received two doses of the Covid vaccine by nation. It reveals that Sweden is in the bottom half of countries for vaccine uptake, but ahead of nations including the UK and Germany

The above graph shows the proportion of the population that has received two doses of the Covid vaccine by nation. It reveals that Sweden is in the bottom half of countries for vaccine uptake, but ahead of nations including the UK and Germany

Europe has become the epicentre of the pandemic once again, with the World Health Organisation warning that the Continent was the only region in the world where deaths had increased - with Covid-related fatalities spiking by five per cent just this week

Europe has become the epicentre of the pandemic once again, with the World Health Organisation warning that the Continent was the only region in the world where deaths had increased – with Covid-related fatalities spiking by five per cent just this week

What Covid restrictions are in place in Sweden? 

The country- which dodged a lockdown unlike most other nations –  also has next to no Covid restrictions in place.

It dropped its final measures recommending people to work from home where possible on September 29.

And advice for people to wear face masks on public transport was abandoned on July. Unlike in other countries the coverings were never compulsory.

On November 11 Swedish health authorities went even further telling double-vaccinated people they no longer needed to swab themselves for the virus.

But this move has now been reversed after critics said it left the country in a dangerous position just before winter. 

Some travel restrictions are still in place for people coming to the country from non-EU nations and Britain.

All arrivals are required to show a certificate they have been double-vaccinated.

When this is not possible they are asked to show a negative Covid test result from to come to the country from non-EU countries.

All arrivals are also required to prove they up to 48 hours before they travelled. 

Sweden will impose further restrictions from December 1 requiring everyone attending events of more than 100 people to show proof they are double-vaccinated.

Officials have warned more Covid restrictions may be needed this winter.  

Whether or not countries opt to lock down again depends on a wide range of factors, including vaccination rates, mask mandates and the extent to which booster shots are being made available.

Germany has said further measures will be decided based on when hospitalisation rates hit certain thresholds, while Friday saw its first states – Saxony and Bavaria – cancel all their Christmas markets.

The Bavarian state capital of Munich on Tuesday had become the first major German city to cancel its Christmas market for the second year in a row. Saxony’s cancellations means the famed Dresden Christmas market is also scrapped. 

Germany hosts some 2,500 Christmas markets each year, cherished by visitors who come to savour mulled wine and roasted chestnuts, and shop for seasonal trinkets among clusters of wooden chalets.

In pre-pandemic times, they drew about 160 million domestic and international visitors annually who brought in revenues of three to five billion euros ($3.4 billion to $5.6 billion), according to the BSM stallkeepers’ industry association.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron has made it clear he thinks high levels of vaccinations should be enough to avoid future lockdowns.

Britain, with higher numbers of infections than most countries in Europe, is rolling out third shots – or boosters – to offset waning protection from the first two and help keep the economy open. 

While the new measures across Europe are not seen hitting the economy as much as the all-out lockdowns of last year, analysts say they could weigh on the recovery in the last quarter, especially if they hurt the retail and hospitality sectors over Christmas.

A full lockdown in Germany would be more serious, however.

‘With Germany … imposing new restrictions, any thoughts that the vaccines would offer a way to a more normal Christmas period appear to have gone up in smoke for now, in Europe at least,’ said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

‘Although there is a nagging fear this could ripple out across the region.’ The pressure on intensive care units in Germany has not yet reached its peak, Spahn said, urging people to reduce contacts to help break the wave. 

‘How Christmas will turn out, I dare not say. I can only say it’s up to us,’ he added.

Pictured: Police officers check the vaccination status of visitors during a patrol on a Christmas market in Vienna, Austria, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021

Pictured: Police officers check the vaccination status of visitors during a patrol on a Christmas market in Vienna, Austria, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021

Pictured: A sigh that says "Please wear a mask" at Christmas market at Potsdamer Platz on November 19, 2021 in Berlin, Germany

Pictured: A sigh that says ‘Please wear a mask’ at Christmas market at Potsdamer Platz on November 19, 2021 in Berlin, Germany

Although Sweden chose not to lock down completely early in the pandemic, it did introduce stricter legally-binding curbs last winter as cases and deaths rose. A couple hug and laugh as they have lunch in a restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden

Although Sweden chose not to lock down completely early in the pandemic, it did introduce stricter legally-binding curbs last winter as cases and deaths rose. A couple hug and laugh as they have lunch in a restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden

EU issues advice on using Covid-19 pill for adults

The European Union’s drug regulator has issued advice on using Merck’s COVID-19 pill for adults and began a review of a rival tablet from Pfizer to help member states decide on quick adoption ahead of any formal EU-wide approval.

In two separate statements on Friday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) detailed efforts to advance use of the experimental but promising options, as infections and COVID-related deaths are rapidly rising in the region and forcing renewed lockdowns. 

Merck’s COVID-19 tablet, Lagevrio, developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, should be given early and within five days of first symptoms to treat adults who do not need oxygen support and are at risk of their disease worsening.

It advised against treatment during pregnancy and for women who plan to or could get pregnant, while adding that breastfeeding must also be stopped around the time of using the pill, which is to be taken twice a day for five days.

Drugs in the same class as Merck’s Lagevrio have been linked to birth defects in animal studies. The drugmaker, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, has said animal testing shows its pill is safe, but the data have not been made public. 

EMA said it was studying available data on the Pfizer pill Paxlovid, days after the drugmaker sought U.S. approval, adding that a more comprehensive rolling review was expected to start ahead of any approval. It did not specify when that review would be.

The EMA last month began a rolling review of the Merck pill and expects to conclude that evaluation by the end of the year. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday Germany will limit large parts of public life in areas where hospitals are becoming dangerously full of COVID-19 patients to those who have either been vaccinated or have recovered from the illness.

‘It’s clear from our experience in England and from what’s happening across Europe that while vaccines do a lot of the heavy lifting … other interventions are required to prevent case numbers rising,’ said Lawrence Young, virologist and professor of molecular oncology at the University of Warwick.

‘Less mask wearing, more mixing indoors due to colder weather and waning immunity are also contributing to the high case levels across Europe.’  

Sweden, meanwhile, has the lowest Covid infection rate in western Europe — after double-vaccinated nationals were told they don’t have to test for the virus even if they get symptoms.

The Scandinavian nation — which was subject to international scrutiny last year when it refused to lockdown — is currently recording 85.4 cases per million people, according to Oxford University research site Our World in Data.

By comparison, the rate is nearly 1,400 per million in Europe’s current Covid capital Austria, which today announced it is going back into a full lockdown from Monday.

Sweden’s infection rate is far lower than other Western European countries like the Netherlands (1,048.7), Britain (581), Germany (536), and France (201). 

And for the first time in the pandemic, Sweden is recording fewer cases per population size than its Scandinavian neighbours Denmark (655), Norway (351) and Finland (150).

But critics say Sweden has been left ‘in the dark’ over the true extent of its coronavirus wave because the double-vaccinated, equivalent to almost seven in ten people, are not being routinely swabbed.

Last week, Sweden broke ranks with its European neighbours once again and told Swedes they did not have to get tested if they were fully jabbed, even if they had symptoms. Covid swabbing rates plunged 35 per cent last week, compared to a month earlier. 

But this week the policy was reversed in response to rising cases on the continent. A fresh wave of Delta is rolling across the continent and putting pressure on hospitals once again, which has forced most in the EU to bring back some form of curbs.

Latest figures show Sweden is only carrying out 1.26 tests per 1,000 people, which is also the lowest number in western Europe.

The threat of fresh lockdowns comes as optimism grows about experimental drugs developed by Pfizer and Merck that cut the chance of hospitalisation and severe illness, more weapons in the world’s fight against the virus.

On Friday, the EU drug regulator said it was reviewing data on Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill to help member states decide on quick adoption ahead of any formal EU-wide approval. 

Slovakia has also seen a surge in infections, with 9,171 reported on Friday, its biggest daily tally since the pandemic began. The country of 5.5 million earlier in the week tightened restrictions on people who have not had COVID-19 shots.

With a seven-day incidence of 11,500 new cases per million inhabitants, the country has the worst reported epidemic situation in the world, according to Our World in Data statistics.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk