Netherlands and Belgium register riots in protests against restrictions due to Covid-19

Police used tear gas and water cannons against protesters in Brussels

Police used tear gas and water cannons against protesters in Brussels| Photo: EFE/EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

Riots broke out in the Netherlands and Belgium, during protests against the return of restrictions to face the Covid-19 pandemic in both countries.

In The Hague, Netherlands, during protests on Saturday night (20) in which clashes with protesters occurred, riot police used water cannons and five police were wounded, according to CNN. One of them was hospitalized for a concussion and two had hearing damage caused by fireworks.

The police reported that some of the demonstrators started fires, carried out depredations, assaulted drivers and threw stones and fireworks at police officers; 19 people were arrested.

On Saturday, there was a peaceful march in the capital, Amsterdam. Dutch public broadcaster NOS also reported riots in the city of Urk and cities in the province of Limburg. On Friday (19), there were also clashes during demonstrations in Rotterdam.

In Brussels, this Sunday (21), there was an uproar at the end of a protest against the restrictions on confrontation of Covid-19: according to the Associated Press, part of the protesters clashed with the police, vandalized cars and set fire to dumpsters. Police responded with tear gas and water cannons. The numbers of injured and arrested were not released.

Last weekend, the Dutch government ordered non-essential stores to close at 6 pm, and hotels, supermarkets and pharmacies at 8 pm, in an attempt to combat the increase in Covid-19 cases. The measures will apply until at least December 4th and require people in bars, terraces and restaurants to remain seated at all times.

Hairdressers, sex workers and massage therapists, as well as non-essential shops, are having to stop providing services after 6 pm. At universities and training centers, the maximum number of students per classroom is 75 people, a measure that is not applied in the case of a test.

Likewise, the Covid pass is being maintained for access to hotels, cinemas, theaters, swimming pools and gyms, as well as the use of masks in supermarkets, non-essential stores, public transport and official buildings.

The government urged companies to implement telecommuting whenever possible and recommended that the population limit visits to four people per household and re-establish a safe distance of 1.5 meters in places where a Covid pass is not required.

If someone tests positive, the quarantine is being applied not only to the infected person, but also to the rest of the people who live with the patient. Sporting events have again closed gates, including all games of the Dutch Football Championship.

In Belgium, the government last week tightened measures to try to combat a fourth wave of coronavirus infections, with a return to mandatory teleworking four days a week and the reintroduction of widespread use of masks.

The country’s authorities have also confirmed that a booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine will be given to the entire population. There was also agreement at the federal level on compulsory vaccination in the health sector as of January 1st.

The other main measure is the extent of the use of masks, which have become mandatory within entertainment establishments or venues. They are required even if a so-called Covid passport has been presented for entry, which proves that a person has been vaccinated, tested negative on a PCR test in the past 48 hours or has recovered from the illness.

The measure affects restaurants, cinemas, museums, concert halls, theaters and other cultural establishments, as well as public or private events with more than 50 people indoors or 100 people outdoors.

In addition, the minimum age of those who must wear a mask has been reduced from 12 to 10 years, although regional and local authorities can decide how to proceed in schools.