Scuffles break out as thousands protest in Brussels against Covid rules

A protest against coronavirus measures in Belgium on Sunday ended in scuffles as protesters clashed with police.

The largely peaceful protest in Brussels saw thousands demonstrating against the reimposed Covid-19 restrictions in response to a surge in cases related to the omicron variant.

More than 3,500 people marched in the capital city, some carrying signs and banners that read "free zone," "I’ve had my fair dose" and "enough is enough". Among the protesters were some Belgian healthcare workers, who have been given a three-month window in which to get vaccinated against the virus from 1 January or risk losing their jobs.

It is the third demonstration against the latest restrictions as well as the Government’s strong advice to get vaccinated. This week, there was a strong police presence as previous protests had descended into violence.

Video footage showed scuffles breaking out at the end of the day when a small number of protesters threw objects at police. It also showed a man being arrested.

However, this protest was largely tame compared to previous demonstrations and only 13 arrests were made for "rebellion and possession of prohibited articles," according to police spokesperson Ilse Van de Keere.

Last month, a protest ended with police using tear gas and water cannons on demonstrators.

Some police officers sustained injuries as several hundred people were seen throwing smoke bombs, fireworks and rocks. Others were pictured smashing cars and setting rubbish bins on fire. Protesters chanted “freedom” as they faced off with riot police.

A number of other similar protests took place across Europe Saturday, including in London and Paris as restrictions are being reimposed to fight the surge of the new variant.

Additional reporting by AP