Thousands rally in Prague against vaccination mandate
Thousands of people marched through the Czech Republic’s capital on Sunday to protest against compulsory vaccination against COVID-19 for certain groups and professions.
Protesters gathered in Wenceslas Square in central Prague to question the effectiveness of current vaccines and reject the vaccination of children before marching through the capital chanting “Freedom, freedom”.
The Prague protest followed similar but smaller protests in several Czech cities on Saturday.
The previous government issued an ordinance in early December making vaccination compulsory for those aged 60 and over, as well as for medical personnel, police officers, firefighters and medical students.
The order is due to take effect in March, but it could still be overturned.
The administration of Prime Minister Andrej Babis was replaced later in December by a new five-party government that won parliamentary elections in October, led by Prime Minister Petr Fiala.
The new administration opposed a vaccination mandate for the elderly and was prepared to rescind it, but did not rule out that it could still be mandatory for some, depending on the evolution of the pandemic. The government is expected to announce its decision on this by mid-February.
Health authorities expected the new, fast-spreading omicron variant of the coronavirus to become mainstream in the country next week.
In this country of 10.7 million people, 6.7 million are considered fully vaccinated, while more than 2.8 million have received a booster shot.