New Covid restrictions in European countries: Violent protests break out

Peaceful demonstrations turn violent in Brussels, while Netherlands suffers second night of rioting



Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

By Web Desk

Published: Mon 22 Nov 2021, 1:03 PM

Last updated: Mon 22 Nov 2021, 1:32 PM

Violent protests have broken out against Covid-19 vaccine mandates and lockdowns across Europe amid new tough rules to curb winter waves of the virus.

Peaceful demonstrations turn violent in Belgium’s capital, while Netherlands suffers second night of rioting

Thousands demonstrates in Brussels

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated through central Brussels on Sunday to protest reinforced Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the Belgian government to counter the latest spike in coronavirus cases.

Many among the police estimate of 35,000 at the rally had already left for home when the demonstration descended into violence as several hundred people started pelting police, smashing cars and setting garbage bins ablaze.

Police, responded with tear gas and water cannons and sought to restore order as dusk settled on the Belgian capital.

Three police officials and one demonstrator were injured in the clashes. In addition, 42 protesters were detained and two were arrested and charged in the violent spree that followed the march reports AP.

The marchers came to protest the government’s strong advice to get vaccinated and any possible moves to impose mandatory shots.

The autumn surge of infections is overwhelming hospitals in many Central and Eastern European nations, including Ukraine, Russia, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Austrian protest

Austria shut its shops, restaurants and festive markets Monday, returning to lockdown in the most dramatic Covid-19 restriction seen in Western Europe for months.

Decision has prompted a fierce backlash, with tens of thousands taking to the streets, some blaming the government for not doing more to avert the latest coronavirus wave crashing into Europe.

Demonstrators set off fireworks and vandalised property in the northern cities of Groningen and Leeuwarden, as well as in Enschede to the east and Tilburg to the south, said police.

So far, more than 100 people have been arrested around the country and at least 12 people have been injured during the demonstrations.

Christmas markets in Vienna were packed Sunday with locals and tourists taking in the holiday sights before shops and food stalls are forced to close.

Authorities issued an emergency order in Enschede, near the German border, ordering people to stay off the streets, police said on Twitter.

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Dutch unrest

In the Netherlands, a second night of riots broke out on Saturday in several towns and cities.

Hooded rioters set fire to bicycles in The Hague, as riot police used horses, dogs and batons to chase the crowds away. Officials announced an emergency order in the city, and at least seven people were arrested.

Police said a rock was thrown through the window of an ambulance carrying a patient. Officers in the city tweeted that five police officers were injured, with one taken away by ambulance with a knee injury.

Elsewhere in the country, two top-flight football matches were briefly halted after supporters broke into the grounds and ran on to the pitch. Fans are currently banned from stadiums because of new coronavirus rules.

The unrest followed a night of riots in Rotterdam condemned by the city's mayor as "an orgy of violence". Police fired warning shots and direct shots "because the situation was life-threatening", a police spokesperson told Reuters.

At least three demonstrators are receiving hospital treatment for gunshot wounds, officers said. Authorities have launched an investigation.

The Netherlands imposed a three-week partial lockdown last weekend after recording a record spike in Covid cases. Bars and restaurants must close at 20:00, and crowds are banned at sports events.

French oversees unrest

Troops headed to Guadeloupe on Sunday after a week of unrest over Covid measures, while Prime Minister Jean Castex was set to convene a meeting in Paris with officials from the French Caribbean island.

Roads remained blocked on Sunday after protesters defying a curfew looted and torched shops and pharmacies overnight, when police made 38 arrests and two members of the security forces were injured.

The dusk-to-dawn curfew is set to last until Tuesday.

The Guadeloupe prefecture said protesters had fired on security forces and firefighters.

The level of vaccination against Covid is lower in some of France's overseas territories than on the mainland, but the government warned Sunday that even there, there were worrying signs of rising infections.

Europe is battling another wave of infections and several countries have tightened curbs despite high levels of vaccination, especially in the west of the continent.

WHO worried over Covid surge

The World Health Organization said last week that Europe was the hot spot of the pandemic right now, the only region in which Covid-19 deaths were rising.

The Organization has said it’s “very worried” by the latest Covid-19 surge in Europe.

WHO’s regional director Dr Hans Kluge warned there could be 500,000 further deaths from coronavirus by March if immediate action was not taken, the BBC reported.


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