COVID-19: Second night of violence in The Netherlands as rioters clash with police over new rules

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Seven people have been arrested after rioters clashed with police in The Hague for a second night of violence in the Netherlands, sparked by protests over new COVID-19 restrictions.

The unrest came a day after police opened fire on protesters in Rotterdam amid what the port city’s mayor called “an orgy of violence”, leaving three people seriously injured after they were hit by bullets. Police said investigations are under way to establish if the shots were fired by officers.

In The Hague on Saturday night, young people set fires in the streets and threw fireworks at officers.

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Police said in a tweet that seven people were arrested and five officers were injured, while one needed treatment in a hospital following the clashes.

Elsewhere in the Netherlands, two soccer matches in the top professional league had to be briefly halted after fans – banned from matches under a partial lockdown in force in the country for a week – broke into stadiums in the towns of Alkmaar and Almelo.

There was a heavy police presence in several other major towns after social media calls to riot followed the Rotterdam clashes, but any further violence was largely contained, Dutch media reported.

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Demonstrations have been taking place on the streets of several European cities this weekend, in protest against new lockdown measures.

Tens of thousands have voiced their anger in the Austrian capital after the government announced a nationwide lockdown and said coronavirus vaccinations would become mandatory by law next year, blaming the country’s high infection numbers on those who have failed to take up the jab.

The nationwide lockdown will start on Monday and will initially last for 10 days, before being re-assessed, and will last a maximum of 20 days.

Demonstrators light flares during a demonstration against COVID lockdown measures in Vienna, Austria. Pic: AP

A demonstrator holds a banner during a protest in Brussels

Most shops will close and cultural events will be cancelled. People will only be able to leave their homes for certain reasons, including food shopping, going to the doctor, or doing exercise.

Austria’s infection rate is among the highest on the continent, with a seven-day incidence of 971.5 per 100,000 people – and daily cases keep setting records.

Around 65% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, one of the lowest rates in western Europe. In the UK it is about 68%.

Protest against COVID-19 measures in Amsterdam

Police officers stand guard as demonstrators gather in the Austrian capital

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg has apologised to all vaccinated people, saying it was not fair they had to suffer under the renewed lockdown restrictions when they had done everything to help contain the virus.

“I’m sorry to take this drastic step,” he said on public broadcaster ORF.

While Austria so far stands alone in the EU in making vaccinations mandatory, more and more governments are clamping down.

From Monday, Slovakia, where just 45.3% of the 5.5 million population is fully vaccinated, is banning people who have not been from all non-essential stores and shopping centres.

They will also not be allowed to attend public events or gatherings and will be required to test twice a week just to go to work.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said: “It is really, absolutely, time to take action.”

A man is detained in Vienna

A demonstrator faces the riot police in Brussels

People gather at the Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos park in defiance of Europe's coronavirus social distancing measures and restrictions in Brussels

With a vaccination rate of 67.5%, her nation is now considering mandatory vaccinations for many health professionals.

Greece is also targeting the unvaccinated. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has announced new restrictions for the unjabbed, including stopping them entering venues such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, museums, and gyms, even if they have tested negative.

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Demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions have also taken place in Switzerland, Croatia and Italy.

And in central Hull, around 200 anti-vaxxers marched through the streets, demanding that carers looking after the elderly and vulnerable should not be forced to have the jab.

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