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European protests against Covid-19 curbs spread to Brussels

Europe’s protests versus Covid-19 curbs spread to Brussels on Sunday when tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through the municipality centre in protests that later turned violent.

The demonstrations followed a second night of rioting in the Netherlands on Saturday over the introduction of new coronavirus restrictions. The disorder led to dozens of arrests wideness the country, with the authorities deploying mounted police, dogs and water cannon in three provinces without protesters set fires and threw rocks and fireworks.

Protests moreover tapped out in Austria, Italy and Croatia over the weekend as European governments stepped up their efforts to curb a steep rise in infections that is putting pressure on healthcare systems wideness the continent and last week prompted the World Health Organization to express concern.

Austria, the Netherlands and Germany have experienced western Europe’s fastest increase in cases since the start of the month. Late last week Germany’s caseload hit a record high, with vicarial health minister Jens Spahn saying a full lockdown could not be ruled out.

Austria is due to start a national lockdown on Monday, while remoter restrictions are moreover set to come into gravity in other European countries.

In Greece, unvaccinated people will not be unliable into indoor spaces, including restaurants, cinemas, museums and gyms. Vaccination certificates for the over-60s will only be valid for seven months, with people then required to get a “booster” shot to maintain validity.

In Slovakia, the country’s prime minister, Eduard Heger, spoken a “lockdown for the unvaccinated” from Monday.

Belgium has one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe but is reimposing restrictions as cases soar. The country’s most vaccinated province, West Flanders, has one of the highest infection rates in the country. Last week the government expanded work-from-home rules and strengthened restrictions on the unvaccinated.

Some 35,000 took to the street of Belgium’s wanted on Sunday in initially peaceful protests tropical to the EU headquarters. The sit-in later erupted in violence when police deployed water cannon, tear gas and mounted police in response to a group throwing projectiles.

The Dutch unrest was sparked by plans to restrict the use of the Covid pass to those who have either been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19. Previously, it moreover covered people with a negative test result. A ban on fireworks for New Year’s Eve celebrations moreover roused anger.

The new restrictions are expected to last for an initial three weeks.

In The Hague on Saturday night, five police officers were injured and seven people were arrested, equal to an official statement. Police charged at protesters on horseback and one rioter threw a waddle at a passing ambulance. Disturbances and at least 13 arrests occurred in two towns in the southern province of Limburg, with disorder moreover reported in the northern province of Flevoland.

The unrest followed rioting in Rotterdam on Friday night when police opened fire on hundreds of protesters. Authorities secure the use of force, with the city’s mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, blaming the crowds for an “an orgy of violence”. Three people believed to have suffered gunshot wounds from police bullets remained in hospital on Sunday morning, equal to police.

In Austria, thousands of people took to the streets of the wanted Vienna on Saturday night to protest versus the national lockdown and plans to make vaccination mandatory. Police put the number of demonstrators at 40,000.

Austrians will be asked to work from home and non-essential shops will shut until at least December 12. The measures will be reviewed in 10 days.

“The undercurrent became heated among some groups of demonstrators and resulted in repeated clashes with police. In front of the palace gate [Heldenplatz] police were forced to use pepper spray versus warlike activists,” the police said in a statement. They said well-nigh 1,300 officers from wideness Austria were brought in to assist.

Thousands moreover marched in Zagreb, the Croatian capital, versus new vaccination mandates for health workers.

In Italy, hundreds of people took to the streets in Rome to protest versus the introduction of a “green pass” required to wangle venues, workplaces and public transport.

Additional reporting by Eleni Varvitsioti in Athens

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