Around 40,000 people took the streets of Vienna on Saturday to protest COVID-19 restrictions in Austria, as a system of “Corona Apartheid” continues to operate in the EU country.

The German-speaking nation — which is still threatening to implement mandatory vaccination for the entirety of its population — is currently restricting the movements and activities of its unvaccinated population in a way previously described as a system of “Corona Apartheid“.

While being described as mostly peaceful by Kronen Zeitung, a number of demonstrators were arrested on suspicion of resisting police, according to the paper.

There were also reports of firecrackers being thrown into the crowd of protesters, with the mood at the rally reportedly being quite tense.

Interior Minister Gerhard Karner commended the police for having “once again proven their professionalism” and that their “consistent intervention against violent criminals” showed “what great challenges the police have to overcome in the context of such demonstrations.”

“Above all, the different field of participants — families with children, but also soccer hooligans and identities marching next to each other — demands top performance from the officers,” Karner continued.

A further demonstration is to be held in Innsbruck on Sunday, with speeches from a number of senior members of the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, or Freedom Party of Austria.

Unvaccinated individuals in Austria are currently under rolling lockdowns, which the government has promised to keep going indefinitely ahead of plans to make vaccination against the Chinese coronavirus mandatory.

As a result, Austria’s unjabbed face the future possibility of hefty fines and possible prison time should they remain unvaccinated.

The government’s plans to implement a vaccine mandate are suddenly experiencing significant difficulties, however.

While so-called “broad” controls will come into force as planned in early February, the use of the national vaccination register will not be legally possible until after April 1st as a result of apparent miscommunication on the part of the government.

Other measures the government planned to implement cannot be implemented at all, according to a Kronen Zeitung report, including the expansion of the nation’s central patient index “to include people who are registered in Austria but do not have a social security number”.

While the country’s Health Minister has defended the government’s actions regarding the botched measures, one top politician in the country has suggested that it may be time to rethink the mandate entirely.

“What if the Constitutional Court said in one year that it was unconstitutional? That would be a disaster,” said the governor of the Austrian state of Burgenland, Hans Peter Doskozil, adding that “ultimately this form of compulsory vaccination polarizes further and leads to division.”

The governor went on to suggest a system of chargeable PCR tests for unvaccinated individuals be put in place instead of mandatory vaccination.

“I would rather have an indirect vaccination requirement, in which PCR tests for unvaccinated people are subject to a fee,” Doskozil said.

“The money that comes in would have to flow into the health system for a specific purpose.”

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