Thousands march in Brussels against restored Covid measures as action in Europe escalates

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Campaigners lights a flare during a demonstration against the reinforced Covid measures in Belgium  (AP)
Campaigners lights a flare during a demonstration against the reinforced Covid measures in Belgium (AP)

Ten of thousands of people marched through central Brussels on Sunday to protest against reinforced COVID-19 measures the government is imposing to counter the latest spike in coronavirus cases.

Many in the huge demonstration that police estimated at 35,000 people also protested against the strong advice to get vaccinated and any moves to impose mandatory shots.

Shouting “Freedom, freedom, freedom,” and singing the anti-fascist song “Bella Ciao,” protesters lined up behind a huge banner saying “Together for Freedom.”

Amid the crowd, signs varied from far-right insignia to the rainbow coalition flags of the LGBT community.

There were smoke bombs and firecrackers, but there was no noteworthy violence when the first marchers reached the end point outside European Union headquarters.

Action escalates in Belguim (BELGA/AFP via Getty Images)
Action escalates in Belguim (BELGA/AFP via Getty Images)

Over the past several days, there have been marches in many European nations as one government after another tightened measures. Holland has seen some of the worst violence.

Dutch police arrested more than 30 people during unrest in The Hague and other towns in the Netherlands on Saturday, following much worse violence the previous night.

Dutch police confirmed they arrested 19 people in The Hague and used a water cannon to extinguish a fire on a street.

Five officers were injured as they tried to break up unrest by youths who lit two fires and set off fireworks.

Police said in a tweet that one rioter threw a rock at an ambulance carrying a patient to hospital.

It comes after seven people were left injured after Dutch police opened fire on protestors in Rotterdam during demonstrations against Covid-19 restrictions on Friday night.

As many as 35,000 people took to the streets (BELGA/AFP via Getty Images)
As many as 35,000 people took to the streets (BELGA/AFP via Getty Images)

In the southern towns of Roermond and Stein, police said they arrested a total of 13 people for setting fires and throwing fireworks, with eight arrested for public order offences in the fishing village of Urk.

Two protests against Covid-19 measures went peacefully in Amsterdam and the southern city of Breda.

Large-scale protests also took place in other European countries including Austria, Switzerland, Croatia and Italy.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Vienna on Saturday after the Austrian government announced a nationwide lockdown beginning on Monday to contain skyrocketing coronavirus infections.

Photos show protestors marching with signs emblazoned with “no to vaccination” and “down with the fascist dictatorship”.

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