Anti-restriction protests held in Romania as virus surges

BUCHAREST (AP) — Anti-restriction protesters took to the streets in several Romanian cities against new pandemic measures that came into force a day earlier amid rising
COVID-19 infections.

More than a thousand people gathered in the capital, Bucharest, sounding horns and chanting “Freedom!” as they marched to the government headquarters in central Victory Square.

One man was detained by police after refusing to identify himself for not wearing a face mask. Smaller protests were held in other parts of the country.

The demonstrations were largely organised by the far-right AUR Party, which has spoken out against pandemic restrictions and supported a number of recent anti-vaccination protests.

Party leader George Simion, who has called on people to protest across the country every day this week, attended the Bucharest demonstration. The new restrictions include an 8pm curfew and, in hard-hit areas, shorter shopping hours.

On Monday, Romania recorded its highest number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units — almost 1,400 — since the pandemic started, and roughly another 12,000 people infected with COVID-19 are receiving regular hospital care.

So far, the country — which has a population of more than 19 million — has recorded more than 940,000 confirmed infections, 23,234 have died and almost three million shots of vaccine have been administered.

People protesting against the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions march in downtown Bucharest, Romania. PHOTO: AP