Protesters rally against government Covid restrictions in Prague

Czech police have used tear gas and a water cannon to disperse hundreds of violent protesters who attacked them in Prague.

It came after a rally against government restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus infections.

Police rescue services said at least 20 injured in the clashes, which erupted after a couple thousand people, including soccer and ice hockey fans, rallied at Old Town Square to condemn the restrictions that include the ban of sports competitions and closure of bars and restaurants. 

Public gatherings of more than six are also banned but up to 500 people are allowed to demonstrate if they are divided into separated groups of 20 and wear face masks.

The Czech Republic is under partial lockdown closing schools, bars and clubs until November 3. With 1,106 deaths from Covid-19, the Czech Republic has reported 55,538 new cases in a fortnight.

Demonstrators gather to protest against the COVID-19 restrictive measures at Old Town Square on October 18. Czech police used tear gas and a water cannon to disperse hundreds of violent protesters who attacked them

Demonstrators gather to protest against the COVID-19 restrictive measures at Old Town Square on October 18. Czech police used tear gas and a water cannon to disperse hundreds of violent protesters who attacked them

: Protesters against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) measures clash with police in Prague, Czech Republic on October 18

: Protesters against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) measures clash with police in Prague, Czech Republic on October 18

Riot police use water cannon against protestors at the Old Town Square as hundreds of demonstrators, including football supporters, protest against the Czech government's new measures to slow the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Prague on October 18

Riot police use water cannon against protestors at the Old Town Square as hundreds of demonstrators, including football supporters, protest against the Czech government’s new measures to slow the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Prague on October 18

Protesters against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) measures clash with police in Prague, Czech Republic on October 18

Protesters against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) measures clash with police in Prague, Czech Republic on October 18

Many of the demonstrators had no face coverings. After police said their number surpassed 500, the organizers ended the rally.

But some protesters remained and the square, throwing flares, beer bottles, stones and various other objects at riot police.

The Czech Republic has been facing a record surge in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, making it one of the hardest hit countries in Europe.

The country, which has the highest coronavirus infection rate in Europe, will wait at least two weeks before deciding whether to order a full lockdown to stem its epidemic, Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlicek said on Sunday.

Demonstrators gather to protest against the COVID-19 restrictive measures at Old Town Square. The Czech Republic is under partial lockdown closing schools, bars and clubs until November 3. With 1,106 deaths from Covid-19, the Czech Republic has reported 55,538 new cases in a fortnight

Demonstrators gather to protest against the COVID-19 restrictive measures at Old Town Square. The Czech Republic is under partial lockdown closing schools, bars and clubs until November 3. With 1,106 deaths from Covid-19, the Czech Republic has reported 55,538 new cases in a fortnight

Protesters wave flags at the Old Town Square. Czech police used tear gas and a water cannon to disperse crowd of hundreds of violent protesters who attacked them after a rally in Prague against the government's restrictive measures imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus infections

Protesters wave flags at the Old Town Square. Czech police used tear gas and a water cannon to disperse crowd of hundreds of violent protesters who attacked them after a rally in Prague against the government’s restrictive measures imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus infections

Protestors light flares at the Old Town Square as hundreds of demonstrators, including football supporters, protest against the Czech government's new measures to slow the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Prague on October 18

Protestors light flares at the Old Town Square as hundreds of demonstrators, including football supporters, protest against the Czech government’s new measures to slow the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Prague on October 18

Protestors light flares at the Old Town Square as hundreds of demonstrators, including football supporters, protest against the Czech government's new measures to slow the spread of coronavirus in Prague on October 18

Protestors light flares at the Old Town Square as hundreds of demonstrators, including football supporters, protest against the Czech government’s new measures to slow the spread of coronavirus in Prague on October 18

In the past week, bars and restaurants have been ordered to close except for takeout orders, and schools have moved to distance learning. Sport and fitness clubs, theatres and cinemas had already shut, but shops have remained open.

On Saturday, the Czech Republic reported 8,713 new cases. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said it had registered 828 cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks, more than 10 times the rate in neighbouring Germany.

Since schools reopened in September, the cumulative number of cases has risen almost seven times.

Riot police move in against protestors at the Old Town Square as hundreds of demonstrators, mostly football supporters, protest against the Czech government

Riot police move in against protestors at the Old Town Square as hundreds of demonstrators, mostly football supporters, protest against the Czech government

Police makes an arrest during clashes with protesters at the Old Town Square. Czech police used tear gas and a water cannon to disperse a crowd of hundreds of violent protesters who attacked them after a rally in Prague against the government's restrictive measures imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus infections

Police makes an arrest during clashes with protesters at the Old Town Square. Czech police used tear gas and a water cannon to disperse a crowd of hundreds of violent protesters who attacked them after a rally in Prague against the government’s restrictive measures imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus infections

Hundreds of demonstrators, mostly hooligans, clash with police during a protest against the Czech government's new Covid-19 measures

Hundreds of demonstrators, mostly hooligans, clash with police during a protest against the Czech government’s new Covid-19 measures 

Protesters against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) measures clash with police in Prague, Czech Republic on October 18

Protesters against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) measures clash with police in Prague, Czech Republic on October 18

Officials have warned that hospital admissions are set to rise sharply until the restrictions show an impact.

‘We will not decide this week about a lockdown,’ Havlicek said on Czech Television. ‘We have clearly said we will wait (until Nov. 2) for results.’

Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said on CNN Prima’s Sunday show the new measures should cut the R number, which measures average spread from one infected person, by 30-40%. A number above 1.0 indicates an exponential increase, and the current rate is estimated at around 1.4.

Police clash with protesters at the Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic. Officials have warned that hospital admissions are set to rise sharply until the restrictions show an impact

Police clash with protesters at the Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic. Officials have warned that hospital admissions are set to rise sharply until the restrictions show an impact

emonstrators gather to protest against the COVID-19 restrictive measures at Old Town Square. 'We will not decide this week about a lockdown,' Havlicek said on Czech Television. 'We have clearly said we will wait (until Nov. 2) for results'

emonstrators gather to protest against the COVID-19 restrictive measures at Old Town Square. ‘We will not decide this week about a lockdown,’ Havlicek said on Czech Television. ‘We have clearly said we will wait (until Nov. 2) for results’

Protesters against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) measures clash with police in Prague. Armoured and mounted police units along with dog handlers were deployed in the crackdown and water cannon and heavy police vehicles were sent to the square

Protesters against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) measures clash with police in Prague. Armoured and mounted police units along with dog handlers were deployed in the crackdown and water cannon and heavy police vehicles were sent to the square

A protester is pinned to the ground by police officers. The growth in cases, with almost 100,000 this month in a country of 10.7 million, and 1,352 deaths overall from COVID-19, is forcing authorities to make plans for field hospitals and seek foreign help

A protester is pinned to the ground by police officers. The growth in cases, with almost 100,000 this month in a country of 10.7 million, and 1,352 deaths overall from COVID-19, is forcing authorities to make plans for field hospitals and seek foreign help

If the latest restrictions are not effective enough, he said there were few options other a lockdown.

The growth in cases, with almost 100,000 this month in a country of 10.7 million, and 1,352 deaths overall from COVID-19, is forcing authorities to make plans for field hospitals and seek foreign help.

The Czech Fire Rescue Service said it had sent a formal request through European Union channels for ventilators.

Protesters against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) measures clash with police in Prague, Czech Republic on October 18

Protesters against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) measures clash with police in Prague, Czech Republic on October 18

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk