dpa/GNA – Several thousand demonstrators gathered at Prague’s Old Town Square on Sunday to protest against recently extended government restrictions designed to contain the coronavirus.
According to police estimates, some 2,500-3,000 people protested in the Czech capital’s central square. Footage of the demonstration showed many protesters not wearing masks and standing close to one other.
Demonstrators waved Czech flags and posters, some of which read “Stop corona-terror” and “Stop Covid tyranny.”
Included in the programme for the demonstration were speeches by business representatives from the hospitality sector, fitness trainers and business unions, among others, CTK agency reported.
Former president Vaclav Klaus was also among the speakers.
“These one-way decrees from the government must stop,” Klaus said, as cited by CTK. “We want to tell the government and say it clearly and unequivocally: enough is enough. There have been enough of all the prohibitions and orders that are fundamentally damaging our lives.”
Klaus, 79, also said he will not get inoculated for Covid-19.
On Thursday, the Czech Republic extended its lockdown measures in the fight against the pandemic.
The government’s highest coronavirus warning level will initially apply until January 22, and further tightening cannot be ruled out, according to Health Minister Jan Blatny.
A maximum of two people are allowed to meet in public. Shops selling goods not considered daily necessities are shut, as are hotels, restaurants and cultural institutions.
There is a nightly curfew between 9 pm and 5 am.
Earlier on Sunday, the country’s president, Milos Zeman, called on his compatriots to be patient and follow the measures in place to stem the spread of the virus. He said the recent increase in cases was due to people who were weary of the restrictions and failed to observe them.
According to Zeman, who gave an interview for Blesk.cz news site, the vaccine brings hope.
The president praised the European Union for its efforts in purchasing vaccinations for member states. He also asked Israel, the world’s leader in terms of the pace of its vaccination campaign, to help the Czech Republic organize its inoculation programme, Zeman was cited as saying by CTK agency.
As of Saturday, some 40,000 Czechs had been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The president himself expects to be inoculated against Covid-19 in about a week.
Zeman, 76, who suffers from diabetes and neuropathy, initially planned to receive the jab in early February, and not cut ahead in the vaccine line. However, his advisors convinced him to be vaccinated sooner, he said.