STOCKHOLM (AP) – Swedish police have dispersed hundreds of people who gathered in central Stockholm to protest against restrictions imposed by the Swedish government on coronavirus.
Swedish authorities say Saturday’s rally is illegal because it was held without permission. The rally was the first major protest against Swedish coronavirus restrictions.
Stockholm police said they decided to stop the rally on their website shortly after the number of participants exceeded the limits of public gatherings required by Swedish epidemiological law.
Swedish media LM videos show a large group of masked people gathering in Stockholm’s Medborgarplatzen Square, not far from the Old Town. According to local media, 300 to 500 people were present.
Swedish tabloids Aftonbladet և Expressen reported that the rally was dispersed mostly peacefully, but that six police officers were injured after a scuffle broke out between police and some protesters.
Aftonbladet says the rally was organized by a group called “Freedom Sweden”, which, according to the newspaper, believes that COVID-19 rules restrict human freedom.
At the beginning of the epidemic, Sweden, unlike most other European countries, preferred to keep its society largely open with limited restrictions, but in recent months the government has taken a much tougher line.
Sweden has had more than 13,000 deaths in the epidemic, far more than its Nordic neighbors Denmark, Norway and Finland.