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PRAGUE (AP) — Several thousand people marched through the Czech capital on Sunday, protesting a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for certain groups including people age 60 and over.

The participants didn’t wear face coverings or follow social distancing rules despite a request by police to do so. One person was detained.

The protesters, chanting “Freedom!” alleged their constitutional rights are being violated. They said they weren’t against voluntary vaccination but opposed a vaccine mandate.

The outgoing government released an order this week, making vaccination mandatory for the 60 and over age group, as well as medical personnel, police officers, firefighters and medical students.

The order is due to take effect in March, but it might end up being overturned. Prime Minister Andrej Babis’ administration will be replaced by a new government formed by five parties that won October’s parliamentary election, led by Prime Minister-designate Petr Fiala.

The new coalition government is expected to be sworn in next week. The coalition opposed a vaccination mandate for older people and can cancel it. So far, 60.3% of people in the nation of 10.7 million have been fully vaccinated.

The country recently faced a record surge in new infections, but the number of new cases has been on the decline for more than a week.


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