A list of anti-COVID restriction protests around the world


Published February 18, 2022 at 1:15 pm

Protests against COVID-19 restrictions have taken place around the world since the beginning of the pandemic. Here is a look at some of the demonstrations over governments’ handling of the pandemic as police began making arrests Friday in Ottawa of antigovernment protesters who have been blocking streets around Parliament Hill. Some protesters say they came to Ottawa simply to demand that COVID-19 measures be lifted, but others have demanded the Liberal government be ousted:


March 4-5, 2021 — About 60 people were arrested and several protesters were injured in Formosa. Police used rubber bullets and tear gas on demonstrators protesting lockdown measures.


May 9, 2020 — More than 100 people demonstrated outside Victoria’s parliament house in Melbourne. Ten people were arrested and a police officer was hospitalized after allegedly being assaulted.

Sept. 5, 2020  — Hundreds took part in a “Freedom Day” protest against lockdown measures in Melbourne. Victoria police arrested 17 people, including one on charges of assaulting a police officer.

Sept. 12-13, 2020 — Police and demonstrators clashed during “Freedom Marches” in Melbourne with 88 people arrested. 

Aug. 21, 2021 — Thousands took part in national protests against lockdown measures with more than 300 arrests. Six police officers were injured in clashes with demonstrators in Melbourne.


Dec. 11, 2021 —  More than 44,000 people demonstrated in Vienna. Police say journalists were attacked with snow balls and ice, and one reporter was the victim of an attempted assault.


Nov. 21, 2021 — Police used tear gas and water cannons as 35,000 protested in Brussels. Several arrests were made after protesters threw fireworks at police.

Jan. 23, 2022 — About 50,000 demonstrated in Brussels. Police used tear gas and water cannons when protesters became violent, with some masked participants smashing a glass entrance to the office of the EU’s foreign policy agency.


July 3, 2021 — Demonstrators protesting President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic clashed with police in Sao Paulo. Protests were held in more than 40 cities across the country.


Jan. 12, 2022 — Eight police officers were injured when anti-COVID restriction protesters tried to storm Bulgaria’s parliament building in Sofia.


April 27 to June 15, 2021 — At least 34 people were killed and more than 800 injured in seven weeks of countrywide protests over the government’s handling of the pandemic and tax changes. Police in Bogota used tear gas as protesters attempted to storm congress on May 5.


May 14, 2020 — Several protesters were injured when police in Guayaquil used force to break up a small demonstration by civil society groups. Media reported police also attacked journalists covering the demonstration.


Feb. 12, 2022 — Police used tear gas against a handful of demonstrators in Paris who defied a police order by taking part in a protest against virus restrictions inspired by Canada’s anti-vaccine mandate demonstrations. An Associated Press photographer was hit in the head with a tear gas canister, and  several photographers took photos of officers kicking and subduing a protester. Police detained 54 people and handed out 300 tickets to motorists, also seizing knives, hammers and other objects.


Dec. 27, 2021 — Twelve police officers were injured and 12 emergency vehicles were damaged in Bautzen as some 500 protesters clashed with police. Twenty-three people were arrested.

Jan. 3, 2022  — Protesters sprayed police with chemical irritants in Lichtenstein when officers tried to pull about 60 rowdy people out of a march to check their identities. Saxony police said one protester attempted to grab an officer’s service weapon and another officer was bitten. Protesters in Magdeburg threw bottles and fireworks at police, but no officers were injured.


July 19, 2020 — Police used water cannons to disperse protesters outside then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem and at a park in Tel Aviv. Police say multiple arrests were made in Tel Aviv after protesters directed pepper spray at officers.

Dec. 18, 2021 — Police used leather whips and a water cannon to disperse protesters demonstrating outside Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s home in Ra’anana. Three people were arrested 


Oct. 9, 2021 — Tens of thousand of people demonstrated in Rome, denouncing a mandatory vaccine passport for workers. At least one person was injured when a march broke off from the main rally and attempted to reach the prime minister’s office. Police sprayed water on protesters who threw projectiles and damaged armoured vans.

The Netherlands:

Nov. 19, 2021 — Police in Rotterdam fired warning and direct shots at protesters. At least three demonstrators were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds and several officers were injured. More than 50 people were arrested. The city’s mayor described it as an “orgy of violence.”

Nov. 20, 2021 — Five police officers were injured in clashes with protesters in The Hague. Demonstrators threw fireworks at police and set fire to bicycles, with officers using horses, dogs and batons to disperse crowds. At least seven people were arrested. Another13 people were arrested for setting fires and throwing fireworks in the southern towns of Roermond and Stein.

New Zealand

Feb. 8, 2022 — Inspired by the anti-vaccine mandate protests in Canada, a convoy of thousands of trucks staged a multi-day protest in Wellington, blocking streets near New Zealand’s parliament. Police arrested 120 people as officers began forcefully removing protesters after three days.


Mar. 5, 2021 — Security forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas on protesters demonstrating in the capital of Asuncion. Protesters broke down security barriers, burned road barricades and cars and threw stones at police.

April 30, 2021 — Protesters threw stones at police in Asuncion, who responded with rubber bullets and tear gas. 


July 7, 2020 — Police used tear gas to force protesters out of the country’s parliament building in Belgrade. Fourteen officers were injured along with several reporters when protesters began throwing bottles, rocks, and flares. The demonstration was sparked by the announcement of a new COVID lockdown. Police clashed with demonstrators outside parliament, resulting in 71 arrests.


July 23, 2021 — Hundreds of protesters blocked the entrance to Slovakia’s parliament in Bratislava and threw eggs at the building. Police responded with tear gas.

Sept. 1, 2021 — Three people were arrested and three others were injured in protests in Bratislava. Police used a water cannon and tear gas against demonstrators blocking traffic.


Oct. 30-31, 2020 — About 60 people were arrested following protests against COVID-19 restrictions held in several Spanish cities including Madrid. Police say 11 officers were injured in the two days of demonstrations.


July 25, 2020 — Protesters calling for the dissolution of Tunisia’s government over its handling of the pandemic threw stones, lit fires and attempted to storm the headquarters of the ruling party in Tunis. Police used pepper spray against demonstrators.

United Kingdom:

Dec. 18, 2021 — Several police officers suffered minor injuries when protesters threw beer cans and metal railings at police in London, where thousands were protesting the latest COVID-19 restrictions and a vaccine passport imposed by the government.

Sept. 3, 2021 — Four police officers were injured when dozens of anti-vaccine demonstrators tried to storm the headquarters of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the U.K.’s vaccine regulator. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 18, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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