Police warning shots left several injured on Friday, November 19, in the port city of Rotterdam where a demonstration against partial containment to fight the Covid-19 pandemic turned to“Riot”, local police said.
A water cannon was used in an attempt to disperse protesters who set off fireworks and started fires in several locations on a shopping street in the city center, Rotterdam police confirmed. Images shared en masse on social media showed a burning police car, which a spokesperson also confirmed to Agence France-Presse.
The Netherlands reintroduced partial containment last week with a series of health restrictions, notably affecting the restaurant sector, to cope with an outbreak of Covid-19 cases.
“Very serious” situation
“A demonstration which started this evening at 8 pm on the Coolsingel [centre-ville] gave rise to riots. Fires were started in several places. Fireworks were set off and the police fired several warning shots ”Rotterdam police said in a statement. “There are injuries linked to the shots fired” during this demonstration which turned into a riot, she confirmed, without specifying the number. Riot police repeatedly pushed back protesters, including deploying a water cannon, the same source said.
Local authorities have banned gatherings in the area to prevent further violence. “This is a very serious situation which requires action of the highest priority”, indicates the order urgently taken by the municipality of Rotterdam to ban these gatherings. The busy main train station in this port city has also been closed due to the unrest.
Reintroduction of partial containment
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced a week ago the reintroduction of partial containment with a series of health restrictions to cope with an unprecedented threshold of Covid-19 cases.
Bars and restaurants must close at 8 p.m. (local and Paris time), at least until December 4. Citizens are called upon not to accommodate more than four people in their homes and to telework, “Unless it is really not possible”. Public demonstrations are suppressed and football matches played behind closed doors. However, schools remain open and outings outside the home authorized.
The government is also considering restricting access to dining and leisure facilities after the three-week period to only those vaccinated or cured of Covid-19, as well as those with a negative test, which has been strongly criticized by Parliament this week.
Clashes between police and protesters had already erupted the day the measures were announced, and police then also used a water cannon to disperse protesters in The Hague. Police also arrested fifteen people last Saturday in a city in the north of the Netherlands after clashes between law enforcement and hundreds of people unhappy with the early closure of bars due to Covid-19.
More than 21,000 new coronavirus infections were reported in the Netherlands on Friday.