Thousands of people in the Netherlands demonstrated against the Dutch government’s coronavirus lockdown measures.
Riot police with batons and shields have tried to break up a crowd of several thousand who had gathered in the Dutch capital to protest against Covid-19 lockdown measures and vaccinations.
The protesters on Sunday violated a ban on holding public gatherings during the latest wave of coronavirus infections.
The protesters, in addition to ignoring an order not to hold a march, mostly did not wear masks and broke social distancing rules as well.
Thousands walked along a main thoroughfare, playing music and holding yellow umbrellas in a sign of opposition to the government measures.
Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema issued an emergency ordinance in response, empowering police to clear the central Museum Square.
'Less repression, more care'
The local government had outlawed the protest, saying police had indications some demonstrators might be planning to attend “prepared for violence.”
The municipality later issued an emergency order for people to leave the square, and riot police marched across the grass to clear the area, sending the demonstrators into nearby streets.
A small group of demonstrators briefly clashed with riot police as officers worked to clear the crowd from Museum Square. At least one person was detained.
Before officers moved in, protesters unfurled a banner that read, “Less repression, more care”. A group held a sign that said: “It's not about a virus, it's about control” on one side and "Freedom" on the other.
The Netherlands went into a sudden lockdown on December 19, with the government ordering the closure of all but essential stores.
Restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums and other public places were all closed until at least January 14.
Public gatherings of more than two people are prohibited under the current set of restrictions.
Like other European countries, the Netherlands imposed the measures in an effort to prevent a fresh wave of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The highly contagious Omicron variant could overwhelm the country's already strained healthcare system.