In Europe, COVID-19 restrictions has resulted in protests

DANNY KEMP/AFP via Getty Images

A resurgence of COVID-19 restrictions in a number of countries has resulted in protests, with some demonstrations turning violent and leading to dozens of arrests.

On Saturday night, the Netherlands saw protests at The Hague, with demonstrators lighting fires throughout the area, defacing property and pelting officers with rocks and fireworks, according to police. The disruption went on until around 1 a.m., and police took 19 people into custody before the night was over.

That demonstration also ended with five officers injured, according to the Associated Press. One officer suffered a knee injury as well as a concussion, and others sustained hearing damage, police said on Twitter.

Other COVID-related protests also took place across the Netherlands on Saturday, including in the cities of Amsterdam, Breda, and Katwijk. In Alkmaar and Almelo, fans broke into two soccer games, defying recent lockdown orders, the AP reported.

The night before, protests broke out in the Dutch city of Rotterdam with hundreds attending. Protestors are alleged to have thrown rocks at officers patrolling the scene in addition to setting off fireworks, according to local authorities. As events spiraled into disarray, authorities issued an emergency order and tried to clear the area with the use of a water cannon, officials said. Some in attendance are also alleged to have set fire to police cars and damaged property.

The protests have come in response to a three-week partial lockdown announced last weekend following a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Police arrested 51 people on Friday on charges that include public assault, incitement, and violation of the emergency order, and around half of those taken into custody were minors, authorities said.

Friday’s activities prompted criticism from Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus.

Protests in the Netherlands are reminiscent of what’s occurring in numerous other countries across Europe in recent days. In Austria, citizens have been protesting the government’s recent decision to impose a nation-wide lockdown beginning on Monday, as well as plans to make vaccinations compulsory in February.

Thousands joined a demonstration in Vienna on Saturday, with around 35,000 people gathering in the city’s Heroes’ Square, The Guardian reports.

Days earlier, hundreds of protestors had gathered outside the Austrian embassy in France, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, on the island of Guadeloupe, a French territory, rioters have set fires in the streets, shot at police, destroyed property, and looted places of business, prompting French officials to deploy around 50 members of their special forces to help restore order on the island, according to an Al Jazeera report.

In Belgium, police estimated that around 35,000 people gathered for a protest on Sunday near a train station in Brussels. Events turned hectic, however, with protestors throwing objects at officers and police resorting to using water cannons and tear gas on the crowd, Politico reports. Italy and Croatia have also been the site of demonstrations regarding COVID restrictions, and in Melbourne, Australia, heated protests against vaccine mandates are entering their second day.


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