Hundreds of people gather at the Citizens’ Square in Helsinki to protest against the coronavirus restrictions on March 20, 2021. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today

HELSINKI—Chartered buses from here and there were idling behind the Finlandia Hall on Saturday afternoon. Some of the passengers swayed and danced across the street in front of the Oodi Central Library, on the so-called Citizens’ Square.

At 14:30, according to a police estimate, around 400 people had packed at the place. Many had walked here from the Senate Square and across the empty streets of the city center to meet their end stop and scream against the coronavirus restrictions imposed by the government and the City. People were holding banners that in capital letters opposed the restrictions, vaccines and masks. Hardly any of the demonstrators wore a mask, some were holding hands, or, just, rubbing shoulder against shoulder.

The wind was hard and big wet snowflakes were splashing against the face. While a monotonous voice was repeating something in Finnish from a loudspeaker, a group of girls tried to keep warm and their spirit cheerful by bouncing lightly, skipping a step.

When they stopped to catch a breath, a man approached and kissed a girl on the lips.

According to the banner, “Love Conquers Always.” Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today

This protest carried the title “Big Walk.” “We invite you all to join us in taking small steps towards what we all know to be and cherish as normal,” the event advertised on their Facebook page.

More than 100 cities around the world, according to the page, “will rally for freedom and democracy as part of The Worldwide Demonstration.”

In Helsinki, the current limit for public gatherings is six people. The police had allowed a group of 15 to protest at the Citizens’ Square.

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Because of the limitations there were some problems to hold speeches. “The police require that the large group should be divided into small groups of six people,” a man said on the loudspeaker.

The announcement was followed by some boos and whistles. “Goddamn Communist rules,” a man uttered from the sidelines while his terrier on a leach made the snow yellow.

The deadline for this article was looming so Finland Today left the scene, but still about half a kilometer away, the man’s voice on the loudspeaker was still trying to get the group separated.

The Helsinki Police Department said on Twitter, that they will start a pre-trial investigation on the protest. “In the opinion of the police, the protests did not in all respects follow the restrictions on public gatherings,” the law enforcement concluded.

The police are observing the protest. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
The protester in yellow costume is hoping for “Light.” Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
“Wake up Finland,” says the banner in the middle. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
“What About the Children?” Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
“Which of these are being washed more: hands or brains?” asks the banner on the left. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today

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