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Police blast protestors with WATER CANNON as Netherlands plunges back into Covid lockdown as shops and restaurants are ordered to close early and crowds are banned from sports events
- Around 200 protestors clashed with riot police and were blasted with a water cannon in The Hague on Friday
- It comes as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the return of a partial Covid lockdown in the country
- Bars, restaurants, shops will close from 8pm and social distancing measures are set to be reimposed
Hundreds of Dutch protestors had a water cannon turned on them by police after they objected to the partial return of lockdown in the Netherlands as Covid cases continue to soar.
Dutch police blasted a group of around 200 people in The Hague with water in a bid to disperse demonstrators who had been throwing stones and fireworks in protest on Friday evening.
In the clip, dozens of protestors can be seen sitting on the ground where they brace for impact as police turned the water cannons on them. As they turn their backs and shield one another from the barrage, officers spray them again.
Later that evening, after flares, projectiles and bicycles were thrown at police, officers were seen hitting fleeing demonstrators with batons as what started as a peaceful protest descended into chaos.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte, 54, was giving a press briefing to the media when protestors clashed with riot police and mounted officers outside the Justice and Security Ministry in the Dutch city.
New regulations mean bars, shops and restaurants will now be forced to shut at 8pm, major sporting events will remain behind closed doors and social distancing is to be reimposed immediately.
Referring to the ‘unpleasant’ return of lockdown measures from this Saturday, Rutte said restrictions that the Dutch people had thought had ended for good were being re-imposed for three weeks.
Hundreds of anti-lockdown protestors clashed with riot police in The Hague in the Netherlands on Friday evening as a raft of new lockdown measures were announced and due to come into force from Saturday
Confirmed Covid cases have skyrocketed in the Netherlands in recent weeks, with a record-breaking 16,000 new infections recorded on Friday
Covid-related deaths in the Netherlands have been trending up since the start of November according to data, with hospitals put under strain
Supermarkets and non-essential retailers will also close earlier and social distancing measures will be re-imposed. The government recommended that no more than four visitors be received at home, effective immediately.
Cafes and nightclubs will have to close at 8pm from Saturday.
A group of around 200 anti-lockdown protesters gathered outside the government building in The Hague where Rutte was speaking. Several people were detained for setting off fireworks and throwing objects at the police.
Armed with placards, whistles and megaphones, protestors initially began with a peaceful demonstration but scenes eventually turned to chaos as bicycles, projectiles and road signs were being thrown and flares let off.
The government was also exploring ways to restrict access to indoor venues for people who have not been vaccinated, a politically sensitive measure that would require parliamentary approval.
‘Tonight we are bringing a very unpleasant message with very unpleasant and far-reaching measures,’ Rutte said in a televised address on Friday evening. ‘The virus is everywhere and needs to be combated everywhere.’
More than 200 protestors gathered outside the building where Dutch PM Mark Rutte was revealing the return of partial lockdown measures
An anti-riot police officer extinguishes a burning scooter in The Hague, the Netherlands after protestors clashed with police
Rutte’s latest move is a rapid escalation for the country after it reintroduced the use of face-coverings as mandatory in public places including gyms, museums and hospitality venues.
It comes as the Dutch government faced huge pressure over the controversial decision to impose a ‘corona pass’, which meant proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or recent negative coronavirus test was required for entry.
More than 40 per cent of bar and restaurant owners said they do not plan on asking customers to show their ‘corona pass’, as they fear the move is a ‘political tool’ that will ultimately damage the hospitality sector’s long-term recovery.
Coronavirus infections in the Netherlands have been rising for a month after most social distancing measures were scrapped in late September, and reached their highest level since July in the past week.
The new measures are meant to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases that is straining hospitals across the country.
New infections topped 16,000 for the second day in a row on Friday, beating the previous record of just under 13,000 confirmed cases in a day set in December last year.
Coronavirus infections in the Netherlands have been rising for a month after most social distancing measures were scrapped in late September, and reached their highest level since July in the past week
Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte announces a new wave of partial lockdown measures from a press briefing in The Hague on Friday evening
Rutte instructed people to work from home whenever possible, and said no spectators would be allowed in the coming weeks to attend sporting events, including the Dutch soccer team’s World Cup qualifier against Norway on Tuesday. Schools, theatres and cinemas will remain open.
Friday’s announcement marked a dramatic change of policy for the Dutch government, which until last month had thought that a relatively high vaccination rate would allow it to further ease measures towards the end of the year.
Nearly 85% of the adult Dutch population has been fully vaccinated. Since the start of the pandemic, the Netherlands has recorded 2.27 million COVID-19 cases and 18,695 related deaths.
Less than two weeks ago, the Dutch health council advised the government to begin giving COVID-19 booster shots to everybody aged 60 and over, along with residents of nursing homes.
‘To get ahead of an increase in serious illness, the council advises the health minister to start offering boosters now,’ the experts said.
Meanwhile, the government has already begun giving booster shots to people with severely compromised immune systems.
Other European countries already have begun giving booster shots. France started giving boosters to people over the age of 65 two months ago.
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