Fresh Covid unrest erupts in Netherlands injuring several people
By Stefan J. Bos
People hurled fireworks at police and set fire to bicycles in the Dutch city of The Hague. The clashes came a night after protests in the nearby port city of Rotterdam turned violent, and police fired shots injuring several people.
In the latest riots in The Hague, several people were injured, including at least five police officers, officials said. Dozens of people were detained in The Hague and other Dutch cities and towns with similar protests and riots, amid concerns coronavirus limitations undermine Dutch liberal traditions.
These people are furious about partial lockdowns or other measures rolled out. Additionally, protestors are angry that the governments' plans to limit access to indoor venues to those with a corona pass proving vaccination or recovery of COVID-19.
Besides The Hague, riots have taken place in several other cities and towns amid concerns the limitations undermine Dutch liberal traditions.
Earlier in the day, thousands also took to the streets in Austria, which introduced the European Union's first total lockdown this EU winter starting Monday.
The government also plans obligatory COVID vaccinations for all citizens starting February 1, further angering protestors. "I want my freedom back," said a woman at a rally in central Vienna. "One would think we live on a democracy. But now this is a coronavirus dictatorship."
Others at the protest in the Austrian capital agreed. "We are unhappy about our government's measures," protestors said at Saturday's demonstration in Vienna.
"Several coronavirus restrictions have been going on for two years now," a woman added. "And there is no end in sight. Every day something new is announced. And we don't know what we can believe anymore. So that is the situation," she complained.
Protests were also in Croatia, where thousands marched in the capital Zagreb to show their anger at mandatory vaccinations for public sector workers.
In Italy, thousands gathered at Rome's ancient Circus Maximus chariot-racing ground to oppose "Green Pass" certificates required at workplaces, venues, and public transport.
Elsewhere, French authorities are sending dozens more police officers to quell unrest on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, a French overseas department.
Overnight riots saw looters ransack dozens of shops and set businesses alight after protests against France's COVID pass turned violent.
Restrictions for unvaccinated people are also introduced in the Czech Republic and planned in other Central and Eastern European countries, adding to tensions.
However, despite the turmoil, the regional director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Hans Kluge, has urged Europe's leaders to tighten measures.
He says without urgent actions such as lockdowns, half a million more deaths could be recorded by next spring.
The WHO is "very worried" about rising coronavirus cases on the continent, with thousands of new infections recorded daily.