Anti-lockdown riots continued in parts of The Netherlands for the third night on Monday as people took to the streets again, over various measures imposed by the government to combat the new wave of the coronavirus.
While the Netherlands was already under its toughest measures since the beginning of the pandemic, with bars and restaurants have closed in October and schools and non-essential stores shut since December, the rate of new infections has been slowly growing as new strains are being found. With panic around the new virus mutants in Europe, the government has imposed a new set of rules and another curfew.
The Netherlands has seen more than 950,000 COVID infections and over 13,600 confirmed virus deaths so far.
Protestors threw fireworks, vandalised shops and ransacked supplies. The police clashed with groups of rioters in Amsterdam as well as the port city of Rotterdam, Amersfoort in the east, and the small southern city of Geleen near Maastricht, according to the Dutch news reports and police. So far around 150 arrests have been made nationwide.
Rioters were mostly in their teens, while initially protesting against the newly imposed night curfew, the police are now unsure about their growing anger and protesting. Water cannons were used against looters in Rotterdam and tear gas used to disperse crowds in Haarlem.
The curfew was the first the country has seen since World War II, and was imposed after the National Institute for Health (RIVM) warned a new wave of infections was on its way, due to the risk of the newly discovered virus variants, despite the new infection rates declining in the Netherlands for weeks.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Monday condemned the violence, and called it a “criminal violence” and a “horror”. Authorities have warned, after a weekend of severe violent rioting, that the country could be on the verge of a civil war.