Protest against restrictions because of Covid ends in confusion in Netherlands

Protest against restrictions because of Covid ends in confusion in Netherlands

The Dutch police clashed with a crowd of thousands of people who gathered in Amsterdam on Sunday (2) to protest against restriction measures imposed by the government to contain the advance of Covid-19.

The agents acted with batons and dogs to disperse the act.

The Dutch capital’s mayor, Femke Halsema, authorized police to remove protesters from the Museum Square after they flouted a ban on meetings and marches imposed amid the latest wave of coronavirus infections.

The clashes ended with wounded protesters and arrests, according to the AFP news agency — no reports of arrests were released.

Shouting slogans like “power to the people”, most protesters wore no masks and ignored social distance. Under current restrictions, public meetings of more than two people are prohibited in the country.

The government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte determined a new lockdown on December 19th. The new rules establish the closure of all non-essential service establishments, such as restaurants, beauty salons, gyms, cinemas and museums, until at least January 14th.

Like other European countries, the Netherlands has imposed the measures in an effort to stave off a new wave of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, which could overwhelm an already strained healthcare system.

On the rise since late October, the total number of infections worldwide has grown by more than 80% since December 1, amid the spread of the strain initially identified in South Africa.

The numbers are also way above the most serious wave the planet had ever faced, in April of this year. The director of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, described the current wave of infections as “a tsunami of cases”.

The average of deaths, however, remains below the registered in previous waves of the disease — which, according to specialists, can be credited to the efficiency of the vaccination.

For specialists, the expectation is that omicron advances even further with the reopening of schools next week after the end-of-year festivities. Doctors say it is too early to determine whether the variant causes more serious illnesses in younger people, but they point out that high transmissibility is a key factor in understanding the increase in hospitalizations.

As a result, several countries have increased restrictions. Greece banned music in bars and restaurants, in addition to limiting its operation until midnight at the latest — on New Year’s, the authorization extends until 2 am, but always without music.

France also determined that bars close until 2 am and decided to ban nightclubs. In addition, it limited crowds, banned people standing at concerts, restricted service in restaurants to seated consumers, and returned to encouraging remote work and outdoor masks.

Portugal, one of the most vaccinated nations in the world, has closed bars and nightclubs until January 9, when remote work will also be mandatory, and has limited public meetings to a maximum of ten people. Germany also announced a limit of ten people for meetings and the closing of nightclubs, in addition to suspending the public at football matches.


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