Several hundred people protested in the Capital against the coronavirus restrictions on Monday evening, marching from the initial protest venue in Bucharest’s University Square to Victoriei Square, in front of the government’s building.
Chanting “Down with the government!”, “Freedom!”, “Off with the mask!”, “No more muzzle”, waving tricolor flags and blowing vuvuzela horns, the protesters en route to Victoriei Square occupied the first traffic lane; they were flanked by gendarmes all the way.
The Alliance for the Unity of Romanians (AUR) announced today that it was joining the anti-restriction protests that will take place in front of the prefect’s offices throughout the country and in the Bucharest University Square.
After the rally in Bucharest ended some tens of protesters started throwing with stones and glasses at the gendarmes in Unirii Square , while the police force used tear gases. Bucharest Gendarmerie Director General Ionel-Catalin Stearoiu specified that 12 gendarmes were injured, three of whom had to go to the hospital.
The Bucharest Prefect, the chiefs of Bucharest Gendarmerie and Police told a press conference on Tuesday morning that a group of 300 people sat down on the road, three people tried to get out of group and when the gendarmes intervened the group became violent and threw stones at the gendarmes.
Bucharest prefect Alin Stoica said that people who instigated violence during Monday night’s protests against the new measures taken by the authorities to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 must pay.
“Those who instigated violence must pay. Those who instigate non-compliance with measures endangering the health of Romanians, those who instigate violence against state law enforcement, those who care more about promoting their own image than the general interest of Romanians and the state are not patriots. Patriots are those who protected rule of law, those who did not respond to provocation not to endanger people who protested peacefully. I congratulate the gendarmes for their calm which led to the protection of peaceful citizens, but also for the firmness and professionalism with which they stopped the violence of this night,” Bucharest’s prefect posted on Facebook.
He thanked all those who respect the measures taken by the authorities and who understand that the discomfort they create is “a small price” for the health and lives of loved ones.
Moreover, the prefect reiterated that restrictions in the Capital will not be changed following the actions of some 2,000 people.
Following violence in Bucharest, 188 people were taken for hearings at the Police stations and fines of over RON 200,000 were applied and files for assault and damage were opened.
The metro trade unionists joined the anti-mask protesters at a some point, to voice their protest against the Metrorex management.
Similar protests were stage in other cities as well, some of them escalating. Gendarmes were surrounded by angry protesters in Drobeta-Turnu Severin, while in Braila protesters clashed with the police force.
In Bacau, Brasov, Galati or Braila, local protesters went in front of the county hospitals treating Covid patients, protesting against face masks.
Raed Arafat: Those who are protesting should come up with their own solutions
While releasing a situation of the coronavirus pandemic in Romania at this moment, the secretary of state for emergency situations, Raed Arafat delivered a message to the protesters against the restrictions: he asked them to come up with their own reasoned solutions to counter the epidemic.
“I won’t comment on the protests, those protesting should come up with their stances that they have to argue. The reality in Romania is different”, Aradat said, adding that there are more different things than the situation in November.
“This third wave has caught the intensive care units more full than they were in November. The way people are coming to the hospital with severe forms and they badly need hospitalization. The deployment of the medical staff has its limits. Some health workers were deployed several times, other don’t want it anymore – the law allows only one deployment. Moreover, we talk about a new strain that is more transmissible and more aggressive, in certain situations“, the Head of the Department for Emergency Situations.
Covid patient with oxygen mask looks at anti-mask protesters at Brasov Hospital
Hundreds protested against the restrictions and face masks in Brasov, with 60 people being fined with a total sum of RON 30,000.
Protesters also passed by the CFR Hospital in Brasov, which is a Covid support hospital, while a person in the street was filming a Covid patient with his oxygen mask on looking out the window of his ward at the protesters.