Trapped between fear of an invisible enemy and impending economic ruin and famine, millions of workers around the world marked the International Labor Day on Friday with rather hushed celebrations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
With blocking restrictions still in place around the world, there have been only a few countries that have seen real May Day demonstrations on the streets. Still, they looked very different from anything that had happened before.
Organizers of a union affiliated with the Greek Communist Party used measuring tapes and colored stickers to mark the exact places where masked and gloved protesters could defend their demonstration – two meters away, to maintain social distance. They waved banners and flags calling for more workers' rights, but did not march through the streets as usual.
Delivery workers held their own demonstration, riding motorbikes and scooters through the streets of the Greek capital, where blocking measures will begin to be relaxed from Monday.
In France, unions asked people to sing on their balconies or outside their windows at noon in a collective cry of protest for more worker protections. Some protesters who took to the streets despite the blockade were arrested.
Turkey saw police detain several protesters with face masks, assembling them in police vans in Istanbul during an attempt to march towards the city's main Taksim square, defying the government-imposed blockade.
In affected Italy, where deaths are approaching 30,000 and companies have been closed for weeks, some entrepreneurs have resorted to a dramatically visual, albeit silent, gesture to mark May day and draw attention to the situation of their employees. Some cafes used dressed mannequins in place of customers in their empty businesses, as if they were buying products or drinking coffee. In the cities from north to south, many small businessmen were on the sidewalks or in the city squares.
Moods eroded in Hong Kong, where police used pepper spray to disperse more than 100 protesters singing and chanting pro-democracy slogans in a shopping mall. The protest was one of several that took place on May, despite the rules that prohibit public meetings of more than four people.
May Day labor protests began in the 19th century in the United States, where this week the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits exceeded an impressive 30 million, and unemployment in April may reach numbers never seen since the Great Depression of the 1980s. 1930.
The restrictions imposed by governments that frantically try to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus have caused economies to stagger around the world.
Essential workers were on strike in the U.S. on Friday to demand safer conditions, while other groups organized rallies to protest home orders that they said are damaging the economy. The death toll in the country was more than 60,000.