Over the past year, there have been numerous protests against Covid related lockdowns in various countries around the world. But did any of them manage to achieve their goal of convincing the government to drop restrictions?

Specifically, I’m looking for examples of governments saying something like “it would be a good idea to keep restaurants closed but the protests are now so extreme that we have to reopen them”.

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    No government is ever going to say that. The nearest you will get is "We utterly condemn these violent protests. And on a completely unrelated matter, we will be reopening the restaurants. Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 17:23
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    @JonathanReez the issue with establishing even that is the situation is so fluid. So if the government says "we are reopening the restaurants but that is not because of the protests but because the numbers are better", it might be true. Or perhaps the memories of the weighted in, even if they were not decisive.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 18:05
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    @PaulJohnson, plenty of governments acknowledge (or admit?) that they're balancing the pandemic, the economy, and other public health issues related to the lockdown (e.g. mental stress). The difference between "extimating the exhaustion of the population" and "giving in to protest" can lie in the eye of the beholder.
    – o.m.
    Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 19:00
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    @ohwilleke we also quickly found out that places like Florida or Sweden were doing just fine despite refusing to lockdown or mandate masks. But unfortunately governments dragged their feet all the way until summer 2022. Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 16:42
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    @ohwilleke To say nothing of situations where a combination of protests and changing situations both played equal role in changing policy.
    – hszmv
    Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 21:00

3 Answers 3


Looks like they've worked exceptionally well in... China:

Chinese cities ease Covid curbs in wake of protests

Chinese cities, including the financial hub of Shanghai and Urumqi in the far west, have announced an easing of coronavirus curbs after unprecedented protests against zero-Covid restrictions last weekend.

Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region and centre of the first protests, will reopen malls, markets, restaurants and other venues from Monday, authorities said, ending months-long strict lockdowns.

There was no sign of any significant unrest this weekend, although police were out in force in the Liangmaqiao area of Beijing and in Shanghai around Wulumuqi Road, which is named after Urumqi. Protests took place at both sites a week ago.

China can now be considered to have had the most successful anti-lockdown protests in the history of the pandemic. They've reopened the border in early January and ended every single precaution with the exception of masks.



It is a bit of a tricky situation because there are the federal government, 16 state governments, and even county-level officials involved, but it appears that "the government" agreed to ease lockdown measures in recent weeks despite the personal conviction of Chancellor Merkel that they should be kept or even increased. She didn't have the political capital to make that happen against a groundswell of discontent with the lockdown.

A snap lockdown over Easter seems to have failed due to administrative challenges -- did they declare a public holiday, or didn't they? Nobody was sure.

For that matter, look at some of the local governments in the Erzgebirge.

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    @JonathanReez, I don't think so. It seems to be a question of infection numbers and the fortitude of the state and county governments. Leaders in a strong position can overcome protests, weak ones cannot.
    – o.m.
    Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 18:18
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    I think this answer is missing the link between a (supposed) public discontent and the easing of lockdown measures. From the surveys I've seen, ~25% want easing, ~40% want the lockdown to stay as-is, and ~30% want stricter measures. So overall a majority don't want easing.
    – tim
    Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 9:45
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    @user253751, one would easily get 0% infection by closing all borders and ordering everyone to stay home for a month. The economic and humanitarian consequences would be drastic, so that is not done ...
    – o.m.
    Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 18:22
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    @user253751, you keep claiming that they are "targeting 100%" -- that's nonsense. The policies are far from perfect, but they try to balance the pandemic and the economy. Germany never had a total lockdown, they never had a total economic slowdown. Someone has to pay for the Kurzarbeitergeld all those people are getting.
    – o.m.
    Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 18:27
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    @user253751, but do you agree that nobody is targeting 100% infections? At least according to most normal definitions of that verb.
    – o.m.
    Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 18:35

As of last week (I'm writing this March 29th), the provincial government of BC, Canada is planning to relax indoors attendance to religious events temporarily, for the next 5-6 weeks I believe and that despite the numbers being on a regular upward trend in the last month.

The rationale is that it is an important time for a number of religions (such as Easter).

The impetus would seem to be the frequents protests around religious restrictions and civil disobedience (holding masses) by a small number of churches in the Kelowna and Fraser Valley regions - areas which coincidentally which have some of the highest case loads.

There was already a court ruling that the government response to the pandemic, shutting down in person attendance for religious functions, was in the public interest, proportionate to the emergency and therefore did not unduly infringe the charter's right to religious liberty.

So it certainly wasn't a legal obligation. And it is happening during a time of increasing Covid numbers, rather than at a time where better conditions might justify relaxing some restrictions.

(It is quite possible that this planned loosening up will be halted before it begins, as the numbers have been trending up quite uncomfortably since this announcement was first made).

But it does seem like giving in to a vocal minority's pressure. I want to stress that the vast majority of churches and religious people have acted sensibly in the matter and respected the safety of others.

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