Rotterdam police clash with rioters as Covid protest turns violent
Dutch police have shot and wounded at least two people after rioting erupted in Rotterdam over new Covid-19 measures.
Protesters threw rocks and fireworks at them and set police cars ablaze.
Hundreds of protesters had gathered to show their anger at government plans for a Covid vaccine pass, and a ban on fireworks on New Year’s Eve.
The Netherlands imposed a three-week partial Covid lockdown last week as cases surged.
Seven people were injured in total and at least 20 arrested in a night condemned by Rotterdam’s mayor as “an orgy of violence”.
Police fired warning shots and direct shots “because the situation was life-threatening”, a police spokesperson told Reuters news agency.
The city was placed under a state of emergency and its main station closed as a result of the violence.
Rioters lighting fires
Rioters lit fires in the main shopping area of Rotterdam
Videos posted on social media showed burnt-out police cars and rioters hurling rocks at police in the city’s main shopping street. Riot police used a water cannon to disperse them.
The Netherlands imposed fresh restrictions last Saturday after recording its highest numbers of Covid cases since the pandemic began.
The measures mean restaurants and shops have to close earlier, and sports events must take place behind closed doors.
Demonstrators clashed with police in The Hague after the measures were announced.
The protesters in Rotterdam voiced their disapproval at government proposals to introduce a “corona pass” for those vaccinated against coronavirus or who have recovered from the disease.
If introduced, only those showing the pass would be allowed into indoor venues, such as restaurants and bars.
Earlier on Friday, the government banned fireworks on 31 December for the second year in a row. The ban would prevent “extra strain on healthcare”, the government said.