Warsaw mayor calls off Independence Day March over coronavirus spread

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WARSAW (Reuters) - Warsaw's mayor has called off an annual Independence Day march scheduled for Nov. 11 amidst a rise in coronavirus cases in Poland and protests over abortion rights that have flouted government restrictions.

The march, an annual event organized by a group of far-right protesters, often brings together tens of thousands of people in Warsaw and is considered a friction point between nationalists and liberals.

This year's poster for the march depicts a knight stabbing a rainbow star with a slogan saying "Our civilization, our rules".

Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski said in a tweet he was calling off the march after taking into account the opinion of the sanitary inspectorate Sanepid.

Trzazkowski, a liberal politician who is a member of the leading opposition grouping in Poland, made the decision as Poland has seen over two weeks of mass protests since an Oct. 22 Constitutional Tribunal ruling further limited abortion rights.

Trzaskowski has attended and expressed support for the abortion rights protests.

The protests have drawn criticism from ruling party politicians, including Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who argue that they should not be taking place as coronavirus cases spike. According to government rules, gatherings are restricted to five people due to the pandemic.

Poland on Thursday saw a daily record of more than 27,000 new coronavirus cases and on Friday a record 445 new coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of cases in Poland stands at 493,765 with a death toll of 7,287.

The march's organizers have said the event will go ahead despite the ban. Head organizer Robert Bakiewicz told Reuters that the group will challenge Trzaskowski's decision in court within the next 24 hours.

(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska; Editing by Angus MacSwan)