Police in Rotterdam have fired warning shots, injuring protesters, as riots broke out in central Rotterdam at a demonstration against government plans to restrict access for unvaccinated people to some venues.
Police said in a tweet that “there are injuries in connection with the shots” during the violent unrest on Friday night. Riot police used a water cannon in an attempt to drive hundreds of rioters from a central street in the port city.
Photos in Dutch media showed at least one police car ablaze and another with a bicycle smashed through the windscreen.
Police said in a tweet that rioters started fires and threw fireworks. Authorities closed the city’s main railway station, they said.
Local media said gangs of soccer hooligans were involved in the rioting.
The government has said it wants to introduce a law that would allow businesses to restrict the country’s coronavirus pass system to people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19, which would exclude people who test negative.
The country has seen a string of record numbers of infections in recent days and a new partial lockdown came into force a week ago. Cases are also rising across Europe, thanks to a combination of low vaccine uptake, waning immunity among people inoculated early, and growing complacency about masks and distancing after governments relaxed curbs over the summer.
According to figures from OurWorldInData, the EU’s average has quadrupled in recent weeks, from just over 110 daily new cases per million people on 1 October to 446 on Thursday.
In January, rioting broke out in Rotterdam and other Dutch cities after the government announced a curfew in an attempt to rein in soaring coronavirus infections.
Earlier on Friday the government banned fireworks on 31 December for the second straight year. The ban is intended “to prevent, as much as possible, extra strain on health care, law enforcement and first responders,” the government said.