As cases top 50 lakhs (52.5 lakhs) worldwide, countries across the world are slowly lifting lockdowns, while retaining some restrictions. In India, which has seen 1.25 lakh cases so far, the lockdown has been extended till May 31st, with restrictions being eased in certain areas.
Meanwhile, many people across the world are protesting the lockdowns, calling them unnecessary and against personal freedom. While some of the protests have been more organised, others have seen people disregard social distancing rules, posing a threat to public safety.
Amidst the protestors, there have also been conspiracy theorists, radical groups and anti-vaxx groups who have allegedly been using the pandemic and lockdown to exploit fears and gain support for their causes. From the United States to India, Europe and Latin America, let’s take a look at some of the protests:
Germany: People across the country have been protesting against the German government’s measures to fight the pandemic. While some are demonstrating against the loss of livelihood and freedom of movement, others have been exploiting the fears to promote various ideologies, including the anti-vaccination movement.
Many have also protested wearing yellow stars, similar to the one that Jewish people were forced to wear during the Nazi era to show the stigma they are facing for being part of the anti-vaccination group. These protests have also been used as a platform for the racist and anti-Semitic sentiments which has been gaining ground in the country over the last few years.
Germany has begun easing lockdown restrictions, and with schools, shops, museums, playgrounds reopening, and the Bundesliga soccer league playing its first game with cut out fans.
India: Sporadic incidents of protests have broken out across the country over the prolonged lockdown. The lockdown has been especially difficult for migrant workers who have lost their livelihoods and have been walking long distances to get back to their villages. After lockdown 3.0 was imposed, hundreds of migrant workers came out into the streets protesting against landlords who were demanding rent or throwing them out, the lack of jobs and food. There were clashes between migrant workers and the police in Gujarat and Kerala. Mumbai’s Bandra station was also the scene of a large assembly of migrant workers who were demanding that they are allowed to go back to their hometowns, after being misled that trains were working.
United Kingdom: The United Kingdom, which has seen 36,675 deaths so far, saw multiple protests across the country. London’s Hyde Park was the centre of protests by people demonstrating against the inability to meet family and friends, and also by groups claiming that the pandemic had been caused by 5G towers.
As per the London Metropolitan Police, around 19 people were arrested, including Piers Corbyn, the brother of former Labour Party chief Jeremy Corbyn, who called the lockdown a “pack of lies to brainwash you and keep you in order,” and also said that the culprits were 5G tower. Across the country, numerous 5G towers have been attacked by those who believe that the cell towers are responsible for the rise in the pandemic numbers.
- Agora, Ceilândia/DF. pic.twitter.com/uGNSPoswBz— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) March 29, 2020
Brazil: The country’s anti-lockdown movement has the unlikely support of President Jair Bolsonaro, who joined the protesters in Brasilia demanding that restrictions placed by state governors to control the spread of the virus be stopped. Bolsonaro was accused of ignoring social distancing rules and mingling with the crowd.
Two of Brazil’s health ministers have left office within a month as the country’s death toll rises. As of now, Brazil has 3,49,000 confirmed cases and 22,165 deaths, making it the country with the second-highest number of cases.
Hunger riots have broken out in #Chile.— NewDimen5ions #FBSI 🇩🇪 🇪🇺Russia =40% of Europe (@OneStepBayond) May 19, 2020
In a working class neighborhood on the outskirts of Santiago people defied the lockdown to demand food aid and poverty relief from the neoliberal government of billionaire president #SebastiánPiñera. pic.twitter.com/UKejwqS3ub
Chile: The police and protesters have been clashing in Chile over protests regarding the lack of availability of food due to the economic slowdown, lockdown and restrictions of movement. Protestors threw stones and set fire in parts of the poorest sectors of El Bosque, a neighbourhood which has many unemployed people and those working in the informal sector. The protests prompted Chile’s president, Sebastian Pinera to announce that his government would be distributing 2.5 million baskets of food and cleaning supplies to homes in the coming week.
Australia: Anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protests took place outside the parliament in Victoria, Australia on May 10th. The protestors, which included those demonstrating against the restrictions and conspiracy theorists claiming that the virus was a government-engineered conspiracy to control the population clashed with police. Many have also been protesting against Microsoft founder Bill Gates, targeting his work on vaccines.
Demonstrators have arrived at the Capitol for “Operation Haircut.” All individuals engaging in haircuts are being educated on the law. Those who do not comply will be cited for disorderly conduct. All citations will be forwarded to the AG’s Office for review. pic.twitter.com/XVb8VVPYFx— Michigan State Police (@MichStatePolice) May 20, 2020
United States: President Donald Trump has been asking states to urgently lift lockdowns, at a time when health experts are warning of a second wave in case the restrictions are lifted too soon. The President has also actively encouraged the protests that have continued across the country, despite eased restrictions in many states. In Michigan, anti-lockdown protests saw hairdressers offering hair cuts to other protestors in front of the Michigan Capitol building, defying orders to keep barbershops closed and stay indoors. Illinois saw hundreds of protestors wearing white supremacist symbols such as the Nazi symbol and the Confederate Flag symbol. The protests have even seen demonstrators turning up with firearms. The United States, the worst affected country in the world, has seen a total of 16 lakh cases and 97,426 deaths.
Spanish anti-lockdown protest draws thousands https://t.co/KwrdWzJq7I— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) May 23, 2020
Spain: In Spain, anti-lockdown protestors thronged the streets in protest of the government’s handling of the Pandemic. While Spain has eased some of the strict restrictions it had imposed in March, Madrid and Barcelona remain under tight lockdown. Far-right protestors are now demonstrating against the lockdown as the economy has been impacted severely and many jobs have been lost.