AMSTERDAM – Thousands of people in the capital of the Netherlands defied a ban and rallied on Sunday for a protest against the Dutch government’s coronavirus lockdown measures before police repelled crowds from a plaza Amsterdam.
The local government had banned the protest, saying police had indications that some protesters might intend to attend “prepared for violence”. The municipality then issued an emergency order for people to leave Museum Square, and riot police stepped on the grass to clear the area, sending protesters to nearby streets.
Before the police moved in, some participants unfurled a banner that read “Less repression, more care” near the Van Gogh Museum. A group of people in white overalls and white masks held up signs, including one that read: “This is not a virus, it is about control” on one side and “Freedom” on the one hand. ‘other.
There was a strong police presence in the square and in the surrounding streets. The municipality has designated the area as a security risk area, giving the police the power to search people as a preventive measure.
The demonstration took place on the same day that Dutch police announced they would take action to protest the growing demands on their work. Union representatives said riot police would continue to work if necessary.
Coronavirus infection rates have been steadily declining for weeks in the Netherlands, which reintroduced lockdown measures in November and tightened them further during the holiday season.
The seven-day moving average of daily new cases edged down over the past week to 85.55 new cases per 100,000 people, even as the Omicron mutation became the dominant variant in the country.
Under the lockdown, all non-essential stores are closed, along with bars, restaurants and places such as museums, theaters and cinemas.
In November, a protest against the coronavirus erupted in violent riots in Rotterdam and protests in Museum Square ended with clashes between police and protesters who ignored orders to leave the area.
Corder contributed from The Hague, The Netherlands.