Several people were wounded by police shooting on Friday in Rotterdam, in the south-western Netherlands, after protesters against the Covid-19 restrictions burned a police vehicle and threw stones.

Dozens of people were arrested and seven injured, including policemen, during the nightly protest on a shopping street in the port of Rotterdam, according to authorities.

The protests erupted in rejection of coronavirus restrictions and government plans to restrict unvaccinated access to some sites.

Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb called the protests an “orgy of violence”.

“The police considered it necessary to draw their weapons to defend themselves,” he told reporters.

According to a statement from the local police, the demonstration started on Coolsingel Street and “ended in riots. Fires were started in several places. Fireworks were launched and the police fired several warning shots.

Dutch media reported that hundreds of protesters, shouting “freedom”, threw stones at policemen and burned several electric motorcycles.

The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, announced a week ago the reintroduction of a partial confinement together with a series of sanitary restrictions, especially in the restaurant sector, to stop the contagion of Covid-19.

Bars and restaurants must close at 8:00 p.m., at least until December 4.

Dutch police had used a water cannon to disperse protesters in The Hague on the day the measures were announced.

On Saturday, police also detained 15 people in a northern city after clashes broke out between security forces and hundreds of people outraged by the early closure of bars due to the pandemic.

At least one police vehicle was set on fire during the protest, a police spokesman told AFP.

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Local authorities issued an emergency order prohibiting access to the protest area to prevent further violence.

The main railway station in Rotterdam was also closed.

Very serious situation

“This is a very serious situation that requires action of the highest priority,” said the Rotterdam municipality order. “Therefore it is necessary to issue this emergency order to maintain public order and protect the safety of people.”

The Netherlands reimposed the restrictions after a rebound in COVID-19 cases to record levels, with more than 21,000 new infections reported on Friday.

Protesters clashed with police in The Hague after Rutte announced the measures on November 12.

As part of the provisions, the population was asked to work from home, unless it is absolutely necessary to leave.

Public events were suspended and the soccer tournament is played behind closed doors.

However, schools remain open and there is no impediment for people to leave their homes.

The Dutch government said it will review the situation on December 3 and is considering banning unvaccinated people from bars and restaurants, although the plan faces strong opposition in parliament.

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