Netherlands Anti-Curfew Protests Spark Looting & Clashes with Police

The Hague, Jan 24 (AFP/APP): Protests against a new curfew to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the Netherlands have degenerated into clashes with police in some locations, authorities and reports said Sunday.

Authorities used water cannon and dogs in a square in central Amsterdam, where hundreds of protesters gathered over the curfew that began Saturday, public television NOS reported. In Eindhoven in the country’s south, police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of several hundred, regional television Omroep Brabant reported. At least 30 people were arrested there, police said. A number of vehicles were burned and businesses at Eindhoven’s central train station were looted, media reports said. A Covid-19 testing centre was also set on fire on Saturday evening in the village of Urk in the north of the country, local authorities said.

“The fire in a screening centre in Urk goes beyond all limits,” Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said on Sunday.

The 9 pm to 4:30 am curfew is the country’s first since World War II, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte saying it is needed to bring down virus case numbers. Violators face a 95-euro ($115) fine. New variants of the virus have led to deep concern in Europe, particularly a more infectious strain that first emerged in Britain.

The Netherlands was already under its toughest measures since the start of the pandemic, with bars and restaurants having closed in October, and schools and non-essential shops shut since December.

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