Greek riot police blast tear gas and water cannon on protesters

Battle of Thessaloniki: Greek riot police blast tear gas and water cannons in bid to stop 15,000 activists protesting mandatory vaccines from reaching area where PM was delivering economic address

  • Protesters gathered near the venue of Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ annual economic address
  • Police fired tear gas, water cannons to disperse demonstrators who hurled flares at officers in Thessaloniki
  • Demonstrators protested mandatory vaccines that began in July for health care workers, nursing home staff
  • Policy has seen nearly 6,000 unvaccinated health care staff suspended and could be expanded to teachers

Greek police fired tear gas and water cannons on Saturday to break up a demonstration of thousands of people protesting against mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations.

Authorities said protesters hurled flares at police in Greece’s second-biggest city of Thessaloniki, who blocked them from trying to reach the area where Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was due to deliver his annual economic address. 

The annual speech typically attracts crowds of demonstrators, and police estimated more than 15,000 people, including labour unions, took part in the demonstrations on issues ranging from economic policy to Covid-19 vaccines.  

The protesters clashed with riot police near the venue, throwing firebombs, firecrackers and stones at police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades and gave chase to the protesters. The clashes lasted about an hour, and there were nine arrests.

There were also protest marches by unionists and the extreme left. Participants in the latter burned a US and a European Union flag, as well as electricity bills, but there was no confrontation with police. 

Greek police and protesters against mandatory vaccines clashed in Thessaloniki on Saturday outside the venue where Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was due to deliver his annual economic address

Protesters hurled firecrackers, firebombs, and projectiles at police during clashes lasting about an hour on Saturday evening 

 Police responded to protesters with tear gas and stun grenades and gave chase to the crowd of demonstrators in Thessaloniki

The annual speech typically attracts crowds of demonstrators, and police estimated more than 15,000 people, including labour unions, took part in the demonstrations on issues ranging from economic policy to Covid-19 vaccines

Protests against Covid-19 vaccinations began in July after the government announced the mandatory inoculation of health care workers and nursing home staff. 

Authorities have suggested vaccines could become obligatory for other groups too, such as teachers.

‘Yes to vaccines, but not mandatorily,’ the federation of public hospital workers, POEDYN, said in a statement.

Greece has suspended nearly 6,000 frontline health care workers from their jobs for missing a September 1 deadline to get at least one vaccine shot. 

Earlier this month, it offered unvaccinated healthcare workers a second chance to get a shot and allow those who have been suspended to return to work.

POEDYN is worried that a total of 10,000 unvaccinated staff could be suspended, disrupting operations at understaffed hospitals at a time when infections remain high. 

Tougher air, sea and rail transport restrictions also come into effect on Monday, with the unvaccinated no longer entitled to free testing. 

Greek police fire water cannons on Saturday to break up a demonstration of thousands of people protesting against mandatory coronavirus vaccinations in Thessaloniki

Authorities said protesters hurled flares at police in Greece’s second-biggest city of Thessaloniki, who blocked them from trying to reach the area where Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was due to deliver his annual economic address

Riot police stand among smoke and fire amid clashes with demonstrators protesting against mandatory vaccinations on Saturday

Protests against Covid-19 vaccinations began in July after the government announced the mandatory inoculation of health care workers and nursing home staff – with the requirement potentially set to be extended to include teachers

An injured woman shouts at riot police during a demonstration against mandatory vaccinations inThessaloniki, Greece on Saturday 

Authorities said protesters hurled flares at police in Greece’s second-biggest city of Thessaloniki, who blocked them from trying to reach the area where Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was due to deliver his annual economic address

A protester hurls a flare at riot police during a demonstration, in the northern city of Thessaloniki, against mandatory vaccinations

Police stand by a raging fire during a rally against the mandatory vaccination of health care workers in Thessaloniki, Greece

A masked protester hurls a firecracker towards riot police during demonstration against mandatory vaccination on Saturday

Police fired water cannons at thousands of protesters in Thessaloniki as they prevent them reaching the venue where Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was delivering a keynote speech on the economy on Saturday

A masked protester walks through tear gas, fired at demonstrators during clashes with riot police in Thessaloniki on Saturday

The protests came as Mitsotakis delivered a speech on Greece’s economy, his keynote address at the Thessaloniki International Fair, where heads of government traditionally announce the coming year’s policies

The protests came as Mitsotakis delivered a speech on Greece’s economy, his keynote address at the Thessaloniki International Fair, where heads of government traditionally announce the coming year’s policies. 

Mitsotakis noted that despite there are about 70,000 more people employed than before despite the pandemic; 46,000 additional businesses, and bank savings increased by 35 billion euros (£29 billion), of which 20 billion (£17 billion) were from additional household savings. 

The prime minister also put special emphasis on climate change following massive wildfires that ravaged the country last month. 

‘This tragedy of overheating will be avoided only if the planet reduces [carbon] emissions to zero by 2050,’ he said, adding that his government will effect a swift transition away from the heavily polluting lignite, or brown coal, into renewable energy. 

Over 14,000 people in Greece have died from causes related to the pandemic. 

Around 5.7 million Greeks, or 55 per cent of the population, are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and 59 per cent have received one dose, according to the latest official figures.

The country recorded 2,197 confirmed new infections on Saturday, and 39 deaths.       

Protests against Covid-19 vaccinations began in July after the government announced the mandatory inoculation of health care workers and nursing home staff

An anti-vaccination protester holds a placard and a Greek flag as she kneels during a demonstration in Thessaloniki on Saturday

Riot police attempt to prevent thousands of anti-vaccination protests from reaching the venue where Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was set to deliver a keynote speech on the country’s economy

The annual speech typically attracts crowds of demonstrators, and police estimated more than 15,000 people, including labour unions, took part in the demonstrations on issues ranging from economic policy to Covid-19 vaccines

A Greek Orthodox priest faced off with riot police at a rally against the mandatory vaccination of health care workers in Greece on Saturday

A man waves a Greek flag at riot police during a protest against mandatory vaccination in Thessaloniki on Saturday, as the country’s prime minister delivered a keynote speech on the economy

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