Dutch police disperse anti-lockdown protesters in Amsterdam

Dutch police forces face people gathering to protest the Dutch government-imposed lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, despite the municipality's ban on a demonstration of Samen voor Nederland (Together for the Netherlands) in Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2 January 2022. [EPA-EFE/PHIL NIJHUIS]

Riot police with batons and shields broke up a crowd of several thousand who had gathered in Amsterdam on Sunday (2 January) to protest against COVID-19 lockdown measures and vaccinations.

Public gatherings of more than two people are prohibited under restrictions imposed by the Netherlands in an effort to prevent the Omicron variant of the coronavirus overwhelming an already strained healthcare system.

At least 30 people were detained after scuffles, during which four officers were injured, police said in a statement.

Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema had issued an emergency ordinance, empowering police to clear the central Museum Square, after the protesters defied a ban on public gatherings.

The protesters, who mostly did not wear masks or abide by social distancing rules, ignored an order not to hold a march and walked along a main thoroughfare, playing music and holding yellow umbrellas in a sign of opposition to government measures.

The Netherlands went into a sudden lockdown on 19 December, with the government ordering the closure of all but essential stores, as well as restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums and other public places until at least 14 January.

Belgian media reported that many thousands of Dutch crossed the borders for Christmas and New Year shopping in the neighbouring country which remained free of major restrictions.

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