At least five people have been arrested during twin, unauthorized anti-lockdown demonstrations in The Hague and Rotterdam as Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the latest swathe of restrictions during a televised address.
The protest in The Hague started at 7:00 pm as Prime Minister Mark Rutte addressed the nation, announcing the new hard coronavirus lockdown.
Protesters whistled, shouted and banged pots and pans throughout the address, with the noise filtering through onto the televised stream. The Hague Mayor Jan van Zanen ordered police to disperse the illegal protest at which point two arrests were made for failure to comply.
Meanwhile, in Rotterdam, some 150 protesters gathered in front of the town hall following the announcement of the lockdown and marched through the city centre, chanting “Freedom!” while calling for Rutte’s resignation.
Three people were arrested after clashes with police, during which several members of the protest group were said to have shouted anti-Semitic slurs.
Local media reports also mentioned fireworks being thrown near the city hall, though there were no reports of injury or damage. Authorities recently banned fireworks during turn of the year celebrations to reduce pressure on emergency departments handling coronavirus patients.
The Netherlands, a country of some 17 million people, has recorded over 632,000 cases resulting in over 10,150 deaths according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center database.
Rutte has ordered all bars, restaurants and cafes to close in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country. The sale of alcohol will also be banned after 8pm and mask wearing is now mandatory in all indoor public spaces.
Eyewitness video from The Netherlands purported to show long queues outside coffee shops before the new lockdown came into effect.