Polish Independence Day protesters say they are going to drive, not run

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© Reuters. Workers unload a shipment of humanitarian aid from a plane arriving from Russia at Zvartnots Airport outside of Yerevan

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WARSAW (Reuters) – Organizers of a far-right Independence Day march in Warsaw said Monday it would be in motorized form with participants driving through the Polish capital after the mayor refused to continue the event due to the coronavirus.

November 11th, which often brings tens of thousands of people to the streets, is considered a focal point between nationalists and liberals and has been plagued by violence in recent years.

"Because of all the circumstances, we thought about the formula for a long time. So that everyone can celebrate with us this year, we opted for the auto formula," said Witold Tumanowicz, vice president of the association that organized the formula in March, told reporters.

Participants are invited to gather in cars and motorcycles in Rondo Dmowskiego in central Warsaw on Independence Day.

However, a Warsaw City Hall spokeswoman said the association did not have enough time to apply for permission to hold such an event as the process took up to 30 days.

The spokeswoman said all other official Independence Day events – except for the laying of flowers – had also been canceled due to the pandemic.

Warsaw's liberal mayor Rafal Trzaskowski refused to authorize the march on health grounds last Friday, and a court on Saturday dismissed an appeal against the ban. The organizers have appealed against this ruling.

Infection numbers have risen in Poland, leading to government warnings that a full nationwide lockdown may be required. Current restrictions prohibit gatherings of more than five people.

Despite these restrictions, Polish cities have seen mass protests on the streets in recent weeks against a court ruling that provides for an almost complete ban on abortion in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.

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