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(LifeSiteNews) — New COVID-19 lockdowns and vaccine mandates have sparked growing numbers of protests across Europe, with massive turnout to freedom rallies in Austria, Belgium, and other European countries this weekend.

About 100,000 protestors, if not more, marched through Vienna on Saturday in response to Austria’s recent nationwide jab mandate and newly announced lockdown. One large banner read, “Great Exchange, Great Reset, Stop the Globalist Filth.”

On Friday, Austria became the first Western country to mandate that all citizens receive a COVID shot. Austrians have been given a vaccination deadline of February 1. They can be fined up to 3,600 Euros (roughly $4,000) or receive a 4-week prison sentence if numbers found in a draft bill for health professionals are applied to the entire population.

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg also announced the country would enter a full lockdown beginning Monday, to continue for a maximum of 20 days. All of its residents, vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, are legally permitted to leave home only for “essential” activities, including work, exercise, and grocery shopping.

​​Austria’s Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein likened the measures to a “sledgehammer” in an interview on Sunday night: “A lockdown, a relatively tough method, a sledgehammer, is the only option to reduce the numbers (of infections) here.” 

“The Viennese demonstration was by far the biggest demonstration I’ve ever seen, and also historically one of the biggest demonstrations we ever had in Austria,” Austrian activist Alexander Tschugguel told The Sun in a Monday interview

“With confidence we can say that around 100,000 people, maybe even a little bit more, came to this demonstration. Austria is, as you know, a quite small country. We only have less than nine million inhabitants, and a hundred thousand people is really a huge number,” he continued.

Tschugguel said that many Austrians want to stop working as part of a strike to “to force the government to stop those terrible rules,” and that protests will continue several days this week. 

He went on to point out that the “problem is obviously” that such COVID jab mandates are not going to stop with Austria but will be introduced in “lots of other countries.”

Protests against other COVID restrictions have been springing up recently in many other European countries, such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Croatia, Italy and Northern Ireland.

On Sunday, an estimated 35,000 people took to the streets of Brussels, Belgium, to protest tighter lockdown measures and mask enforcement, as well as existing restrictions barring the unvaccinated from nightclubs, bars, and restaurants.

The Independent reported, “One group of protesters sang the anti-fascist song ‘Bella Ciao’ and shouted ‘Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!’ as they marched to the European Union headquarters.”

“Some protesters held hands and chanted ‘freedom’ as they faced up to riot police outside the European Union headquarters. One carried a placard reading ‘when tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty.’” 

“My kids will never become part of your experiment,” read another handheld sign. 

Russia Today UK shared video footage of a COVID freedom rally in London on Saturday during which hundreds gathered to protest coercive COVID measures, including mandatory jabs for health workers, the push for COVID shots for children, and “vaccine passports.”

Thousands of peaceful protestors against COVID restrictions marched around Amsterdam’s central square on Saturday, and another thousand openly protested in the Netherland’s southern city of Breda. In Rotterdam and other areas of the Netherlands, at least 40 arrests were made due to violence erupting during anti-COVID protests, Aljazeera reported.

During the 18th consecutive weekend of protests against Italy’s COVID green pass, demonstrations gathered at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday.