The Netherlands has turned into a “warzone” as protests against new Covid-19 restrictions descended into rioting.
Last week the Dutch government introduced a partial three-week lockdown in a bid to bring down the number of new Covid cases – as Thursday, November 11, saw the country record its highest number of cases at any time during the pandemic, with 16,364.
As part of the new lockdown rules, bars, restaurants and supermarkets have to close at 8pm, while stores selling non-essential items have to close at 6pm.
Sports matches are now being played behind closed doors and people are urged to work from home where possible.
Masks are now also mandatory inside shops and on public transport.
Commenting on the new restrictions, caretaker Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, said the government wanted to “deliver a hard blow to the virus”.
In Rotterdam however, the country’s second biggest city, residents are furious with the new restrictions and took to the streets on Friday evening to voice their discontent.
Demonstrators shouted slogans including “freedom”, with the situation quickly descending into rioting and violence.
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Protesters threw rocks and set fire to police cars, while officers tried to supress the situation by firing warning shots and using water cannons.
Dutch police said on Twitter: “Four rioters were wounded when they were hit by bullets; they remain in hospital.”
They added that 51 people had been arrested, with half of those under the age of 18.
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Describing the rioting as an “orgy of violence”, Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said that “on a number of occasions the police felt it necessary to draw their weapons to defend themselves”.
Local political party Leefbaar Rotterdam condemned the violence in a tweet.
“The centre of our beautiful city has this evening transformed into a war zone.
“Rotterdam is a city where you can disagree with things that happen, but violence is never, never the solution.”
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