Thousands of people from across Austria marched through the heart of Vienna on Saturday, chanting “freedom” and “resistance” at a mass demonstration that attracted families and far-right groups alike, united in their anger at their government’s decision to impose further restrictions on public life and a mandate for vaccines to protect against the coronavirus.
The police in Vienna estimated that up to 35,000 people took part in the march through the city center. Throughout much of the afternoon, the protests remained largely peaceful, but as dusk fell over the Austrian capital, skirmishes broke out between officers and groups of demonstrators, and the police braced for further violence.
Members of far-right groups and hooligans threw beer cans at officers and set off pyrotechnics at points along the route, the police said. At least five people were arrested, officials said, and several others were written up for violations involving failure to wear masks, or for displaying stars like those the Nazis forced Jews to wear during the Holocaust.
At other points along the route, demonstrators banged on drums and rang cowbells to express their frustration at measures aimed at halting the rampant surge of the coronavirus, including a nationwide lockdown starting on Monday. Many of the protesters complained that they felt their leaders had failed to do enough before imposing the most drastic measures.
Among the angry protesters was Katja Schoissenger, a mother of two young children from Vienna, who carried a sign reading, “Freedom, peace and humanity.” She said she was angry about the limitations being imposed on the unvaccinated. Since Monday, those who could not provide proof of vaccination or recent recovery from Covid have been banned from public life, both indoor and out, with the police carrying out spot checks in restaurants and parks alike.
“Society is being massively divided and set against a group of people who are being shut out of public life and forced to do things we don’t want to do,” Ms. Schoissenger said. “I have nothing against people who want to be vaccinated. It is a free decision, and I think that’s OK and legitimate, but I am a young, healthy person and it’s not an issue for me.”
More than one-third of the population in Austria is not vaccinated, one of the highest proportions in Europe. As a result, the number of new infections has soared in recent weeks, and the 15,809 cases reported on Saturday set a record.
The number of unvaccinated people is straining Austria’s health system. Daily deaths have risen from an average in the single digits in late September to more than 40, according to the Our World in Data project at Oxford University.
The populist Freedom Party, which has vociferously opposed the government’s coronavirus restrictions over the past 18 months, helped organize Saturday’s protests, attracting far-right groups and conspiracy theorists from across the country and neighboring Germany.
“We are all Austrians, regardless of whether we are vaccinated or not vaccinated,” Udo Landbauer, a regional party leader, told the crowd at a rally on Heldenplatz. “We have rights, and we will continue to be loud until we get our basic rights back.”
Rioters set fires on the streets of Rotterdam and attacked police officers at a demonstration against Covid measures in the Netherlands on Friday night. Austrians protested a newly announced nationwide lockdown and plan to make coronavirus vaccinations compulsory. And protesters gathered in Germany, Italy and Switzerland.
A year and a half after the coronavirus swept through Europe with devastating effect, prompting strict lockdowns, the continent is once again the epicenter of the pandemic. And as governments increasingly return to measures limiting public life and introduce vaccination requirements, protests pushing back against those rules are also rising.
With infections soaring and antiviral drugs to treat the coronavirus not yet available, governments have doubled down on calls for people to get vaccinated, including with booster shots. They have also shifted from voluntary measures to mandatory ones as they lose patience with people who are resisting inoculation.
Frustration among members of the public also appears to be growing on both sides. Although recent anti-vaccine protests have fizzled in countries like France and Italy, they have flared up in the Netherlands, where a three-week partial lockdown is in place in an attempt to quell a fourth wave of coronavirus infections.
On Friday night, police officers in Rotterdam fired warning shots and used water cannons against hundreds of protesters who were demonstrating over the country’s pandemic restrictions. Seven people were injured and dozens were arrested amid what the city’s mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, described as “an orgy of violence.”
In Austria’s capital, Vienna, thousands protested on Saturday over a vaccination mandate that is set to come into force in February and a nationwide lockdown that begins on Monday.
Those actions, which were announced on Friday and would have widely been considered unthinkable just months ago, are the strongest recent measures taken in a Western democracy to tame the pandemic. Austria’s populist Freedom Party, which called for Saturday’s protests, compared them to the type of rules imposed in a dictatorship.
Neighboring Germany, where case numbers have soared in recent weeks, largely among children, teenagers and unvaccinated adults, will also see lockdowns in some of the states with the highest levels of infection. Already restrictions are in place for the unvaccinated.
As to whether a general lockdown could be reinstated in the country, the acting health minister, Jens Spahn, said on Friday that “nothing should be ruled out.”
Portugal may also face new lockdown restrictions, its prime minister said on Friday, and the Czech Republic, which is facing its highest caseload since the pandemic began, will require proof of vaccination or recent recovery from the virus for entry into restaurants, bars and hair salons starting on Monday.
In the Netherlands, the government has said it wants to introduce a law allowing businesses to exclude unvaccinated people, even if they test negative.
The vaccination campaign team from UNICEF arrived in a small motorboat last month in the flooded village of Wernyol, not far from the capital of South Sudan, and met with elders under a tree on a small patch of dry land.
The team was ready with a briefing sheet about coronavirus and the vaccine, hoping to pre-empt what they assumed would be a flurry of questions, but first and foremost, what the elders wanted to know was: When will the rains stop? In recent years, it has sometimes felt as if rain is the only thing some South Sudanese have ever known. The result is the worst flooding in parts of South Sudan in six decades, affecting about a third of the country.
For most of the 11 million people in this landlocked nation in east central Africa, one of the poorest countries on Earth, the coronavirus pandemic is not at the top of the list of problems.
Many people have fled Wernyol and other villages in the state of Jonglei, while those who remain have lost their crops, their livestock and their homes. With fish almost the only food available, malnutrition is rampant, as is disease.
In Pawel, another submerged village a few hours down a river that only a few years ago was a road, the village leader, James Kuir Bior, 50, was a little skeptical with the U.N. representatives about how the coronavirus vaccine stacked up against all the village’s other needs.
“We need medicines and nets,” Mr. Bior said as a thin covering of clouds overhead hinted at still more rain. “Now all we can think about is how to get out of this flooding.”
Gov. Bill Lee said on Friday that he would not renew Tennessee’s state of emergency, ending measures that he first put in place in response to the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020.
The governor announced the decision in a tweet:
I am not renewing the COVID-19 state of emergency that expires tonight. For almost 20 months, this tool has provided deregulation & operational flexibility for hospitals & industries most affected by COVID’s challenges.
— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) November 19, 2021
Mr. Lee added that he would consider temporarily reinstating the measures should the state “face any future surges,” but that his administration was “evaluating opportunities for permanent deregulation.”
Recently, cases in Tennessee reached a peak in early September before dropping steeply, but infections have been rising again in recent days.
Mr. Lee, a Republican, has been active in rolling back pandemic restrictions. Last week, he signed a bill into law that prohibited government entities, schools and private businesses in Tennessee from requiring Covid vaccinations or proof of vaccination and limited their ability to impose mask mandates. The law also prohibited health care providers from vaccinating minors without the written consent of a parent or legal guardian.
On Wednesday, the governor made a pitch to law enforcement personnel who were leaving states with “restrictive mandates” to join the Tennessee Highway Patrol, going so far as offering to help pay their moving expenses.
Demonstrators prepared to gather in Milan and Rome on Saturday evening to protest Italy’s coronavirus health pass on the 18th consecutive weekend of such rallies. Organizers considered a strong showing necessary to prove that they were a force to be reckoned with.
Police officers were out in force to protect shops and prevent violence. Store owners have lamented that the protests disrupt business, especially as Christmas shopping is ramping up.
After an initial large rally in Rome in October that was hijacked by violent neofascists and a burst of activity in Trieste, a northeastern port city, the demonstrations have diminished. After suffering through one of the world’s worst outbreaks early in the pandemic, most of the Italian public has embraced vaccination. And while the country is experiencing part of the Europe-wide surge in cases, the bump in its caseload has been relatively small.
Roberto Burioni, a leading virologist at San Raffaele University in Milan, attributed Italy’s success in keeping down its Covid numbers partly to its aggressive vaccination campaign — more than 73 percent of the population is fully inoculated — and partly to its early intervention with the health pass. Requiring that certificate, known as a Green Pass, has allowed Italy to avoid more draconian measures, he said, such as the nationwide lockdown being imposed in Austria starting next week.
Mr. Burioni also said the strict measures in the Green Pass, which is required for entry into bars and clubs, had perhaps motivated Italy’s younger people to get vaccinated.
“What is surprising is the rate of vaccination for people between 19 and 29,” he said, putting the rate at nearly 84 percent. “It is very high.”
As Italian officials continued to urge people to get inoculated against the virus, the government on Friday reported success in delivering third vaccine doses to people, with 160,000 doses administered in 24 hours. But roughly 6.7 million Italians over age 12 remain unvaccinated, in a country of just over 60 million people.
When the Green Pass was introduced last month, it was the toughest such measure in Europe, requiring the entire Italian work force to be vaccinated, have recovered from the virus or have frequent negative tests to earn a paycheck.
The government has said that it has no plans to toughen up the pass. But some top ministers and many politicians in the country’s northern regions, which share border with Austria and other countries in which cases are soaring, are urging that the swab option be taken away, essentially mandating vaccinations.
Pregnant women who had Covid-19 when they delivered their babies were almost twice as likely to have a stillbirth as healthy women who did not have Covid, according to a Centers for Disease Control study released on Friday that examined more than 1.2 million deliveries in the United States from March 2020 to September 2021.
While stillbirths were rare overall, representing less than 1 percent of all births, 1.26 percent of the 21,653 women with Covid experienced a stillbirth, compared with 0.64 percent of women without Covid. Even after adjustments were made to control for differences between the groups, women with Covid were 1.9 times as likely as healthy women to have a stillbirth.
The risk of stillbirth has been even higher for women with Covid since the Delta variant has been dominant: While the risk of stillbirth for women with Covid was 1.5 times as high as that of healthy women before July, when Delta became dominant, it was four times as high from July to September. As many as 2.7 percent of deliveries to women with Covid were stillbirths during the period studied while Delta was dominant.
“There had been reports suggesting an increased risk, but stillbirths are hard to study, because luckily they are uncommon,” said Dr. Denise Jamieson, the chief of gynecology and obstetrics at Emory Healthcare. “This is some of the strongest evidence of the increased risk, and probably the strongest data pointing to the risks specifically tied to Delta.”
The C.D.C. strongly encourages pregnant and breastfeeding women and women planning or trying to become pregnant to be vaccinated against Covid, but resistance has been strong, even though pregnancy is on the C.D.C.’s list of health conditions that increase the risk of severe disease.
Studies have shown that pregnant patients who are symptomatic are more than twice as likely as other symptomatic patients to require admission to intensive care or interventions like mechanical ventilation, and they may be more likely to die. They are also more likely to experience a preterm birth.
Another C.D.C. study issued on Wednesday described the cases of 15 pregnant women in Mississippi who died of Covid during their pregnancy or shortly afterward, including six who died before the Delta variant became dominant and nine who died from July to October, while Delta was dominant.
Of the women who died, nine were Black, three were white and three were Hispanic. The median age was 30. Fourteen of the women had underlying medical conditions, and none were vaccinated. Five of the deaths occurred before vaccinations were available.
Singapore said on Saturday that it would begin easing its pandemic restrictions next week, another sign that the city state is recovering from a recent surge of hospitalizations that delayed its reopening plan.
From Monday, fully vaccinated people will be allowed to gather in households and restaurants in groups of up to five, an increase from the current two, government ministers on Singapore’s Covid task force told a news conference.
“We are now transitioning towards living with Covid-19,” the trade minister, Gan Kim Yong, said. “I know many, or some, prefer to open up more quickly, but we must do so in a very careful and step-by-step manner.”
Singapore’s border closures and aggressive Covid testing made it a success story in the early days of the pandemic. It was also among the first countries in Asia to order vaccines. But the country’s pandemic exit plan — incremental and highly regulated even under the best-case scenarios — was delayed for months by a recent surge of cases that overwhelmed the hospital system.
Compared with the United States and European nations, Singapore and many other Asian countries have been much slower to reopen their borders and ease rules on social gatherings.
Singapore’s rules are extreme even by the standards of other Asian countries with high vaccination rates. Only two people may gather together at gyms, malls and public places, including outdoors, for example, even though nearly nine in 10 residents are fully vaccinated.
Singapore officials said on Saturday that they probably would not ease restrictions any further for the rest of the year, because they wanted to limit social gatherings during holiday festivities.
Singapore recorded 1,633 new local cases on Friday, the Health Ministry said, down from the second half of October, when the number of daily local cases rarely dipped below 2,800 and reached a high of 4,650 on Oct. 27.
The burden on Singapore’s health system has fallen over the past month. The intensive care unit utilization rate was 57 percent on Friday, the Health Ministry said, down from about 84 percent on Oct. 25.
Portugal’s government is preparing to add some new restrictions after registering its worst Covid numbers in months.
A rise in infections in the country, which has one of Europe’s highest coronavirus vaccination rates, comes as winter approaches and more people remain indoors, although inoculations have been shown to vastly limit infections and their severity and inoculated people have been protected from hospitalization in intensive-care units and death from the virus.
“The pandemic, unfortunately, is not yet over,” Prime Minister António Costa said on Twitter.
On Friday, Mr. Costa held his first special meeting with the country’s top health experts in two months to discuss introducing new measures. He said the rules would be presented to lawmakers early next week.
President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said this past week that it was “evident” that Portugal needed to reinstate a requirement that face masks be worn in outdoor public spaces. Currently, face coverings are compulsory on public transit, in shopping malls and in spaces like concert halls. All bar and restaurant employees are also required to wear masks.
Still, Mr. Costa said recently that his government was not contemplating a return to the state of emergency that was in place at the start of this year, when Lisbon’s hospitals became overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients. Under that status, people were allowed to leave home only in exceptional circumstances and were forbidden to travel outside their municipalities.
Portugal’s Covid infection rate has crept up recently, with 2,371 new cases registered on Friday, although they remain far lower than when the country’s numbers peaked earlier this year. In January, Portugal was registering more than 10,000 cases a day, an acute situation that prompted the government to seek emergency assistance from other countries, including Germany.
Thousands rallied in Melbourne and other Australian cities on Saturday to protest pandemic restrictions and vaccine mandates.
In Melbourne, the capital of Victoria State, protesters gathered outside the state Parliament and marched through the central business district. They waved Australian flags, chanting, “No more mandates” and “Kill the bill.”
It was the latest demonstration after a week of escalating protests over a contentious pandemic powers bill that the state government is seeking to pass within the next month. The bill would replace a state of emergency that is set to lapse on Dec. 15, allowing officials to continue enforcing restrictions related to lockdowns, masking requirements and vaccination mandates.
It would also allow the state government to make new pandemic orders that it determines would help protect public health. The Liberal Party and some legal and rights groups have raised concerns about the bill’s broad scope.
Over the past week, protesters have camped outside Victoria’s Capitol as the government negotiated passage of the bill. Lawmakers who support the bill have reported receiving death threats and being targets of abuse.
The protests on Saturday also targeted vaccination requirements. Although Australia has no broad vaccine mandate, individual states have introduced mandatory vaccination for some workers, including those in construction, education and health care. In Victoria, unvaccinated people are not allowed to eat in restaurants or to visit shops unless they are buying essential goods like food and medicine.
Pro-vaccination campaigners staged a smaller demonstration in Melbourne’s central business district on Saturday. The police kept the two groups apart.
Anti-vaccine crowds also gathered in Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney, the country’s biggest city.
Among those gathered in Sydney was Craig Kelly, a federal lawmaker who quit the governing Liberal Party this year after facing criticism from Prime Minister Scott Morrison for spreading anti-vaccination misinformation and promoting unproven coronavirus treatments. On Saturday, he addressed thousands of anti-vaccination protesters at a park in Sydney’s central business district.
“When we have governments that adopt vaccine passports, we’re no longer free,” he said. “We don’t live in a free society — we live in a prison camp.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday endorsed booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines for all adults, a move that brings tens of millions fully vaccinated people a step closer to a third shot.
Boosters are recommended six months after the second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. With this final step, boosters should be available this weekend, allowing many Americans to get a shot before the Thanksgiving holiday.
The new recommendations say that everyone 50 and older — most of whom have other risk factors — as well as those 18 and older living in long-term care facilities “should” get a booster. Other Americans who are 18 and older “may” opt for one if they wish, based on individual risk and benefit.
Several advisers said at the meeting that they hoped the simpler age-based guidelines would ease some of the confusion around who is eligible for the extra shots.
An advisory committee to the C.D.C. unanimously voted in favor of the booster shots. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the agency’s director, later formally accepted the recommendation. The recommendations align with President Biden’s promise in August that all adults would be eligible for extra doses.
Desperate to dampen even a dim echo of last winter’s horrors, the administration is betting that booster shots will shore up what some have characterized as waning immunity among the fully vaccinated.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized boosters of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for all adults on Friday, but the C.D.C. generally makes the recommendations followed by the medical profession.
In recent days, several states have broadened booster access to all adults on their own.
Addressing the panelists, Dr. Sam Posner, the acting director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, acknowledged that previous eligibility categories “were complicated to implement” and said he hoped that simplifying them “will reduce confusion.”
After a brief respite, coronavirus infections are inching up again, particularly in parts of the country where cooler weather is hustling people indoors. Research suggests that the shots may help forestall at least some infections, particularly in older adults and those with certain health conditions.
The C.D.C.’s decision lands just as Americans are preparing to spend the holidays with family and friends. Given the tens of millions of Americans who have yet to receive a single dose of vaccine, holiday travel and get-togethers could send cases skyrocketing, as they did last year.
Several European countries are also offering boosters to all adults in a bid to contain fresh waves of infections. France has gone so far as to mandate booster shots for people over age 65 who wish to get a health pass permitting access to public venues.
Noah Weiland and Dan Levin contributed reporting.
Inside Good Room, a nightclub in Brooklyn, people were dancing to techno and mingling with strangers, while outside, rain poured down on a line of partygoers that snaked down the block. It was Friday night, and the event was sold out.
“It’s nice to know places like this still exist,” said Caitlin Widener, 33, as she stood near the bar, reflecting on what she had missed about Good Room while it was closed for nearly 18 months because of the pandemic.
Things may be somewhat back to normal for its patrons, but the club, which reopened in September, is struggling. Its managers still must pay 18 months of back rent, maintenance and reopening costs, all of which total about $500,000, said Josh Houtkin, Good Room’s booking director.
Good Room is not alone. Many New York City clubs that survived the pandemic are now drawing large crowds but are still plagued by debt and uncertain futures. Many have had to rethink their business models, while others have shut down entirely.
“This industry is crucial to our economic and cultural well-being,” said Ariel Palitz, the senior executive director of New York City’s Office of Nightlife. “It is our backbone of the city, and without its recovery, the city can’t recover either.”
Covid-19 Live Updates: Protests, Cases and Vaccine News – The New York Times