Brussels police block anti-lockdown demos
Police in the Belgian capital said Sunday they detained scores of people to prevent banned demonstrations against measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
olice in the Belgian capital said Sunday they detained scores of people to prevent banned demonstrations against measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are above 200 arrested at the moment,” mainly around the rail stations in Brussels, a police spokesman said around midday.
olice evacuated a square in front of the main railway station, where some protesters were football fans from Belgian clubs.
Dozens of people, responding to calls on social media, also began gathering at the Atomium, a landmark building in Brussels.
“We remind you that there is no authorisation to come and demonstrate this Sunday,” the Brussels police responded in a Tweet.
“Those people who still intend to demonstrate in Brussels today will be approached, dissuaded from staying and if necessary” detained, it added.
Belgium has registered one of the highest death rates in the world during the coronavirus pandemic, but restrictions closing bars and restaurants since October along with a nighttime curfew have brought infection and hospital cases down in the past two months.
The country last week banned non-essential trips in and out of the country until March 1.
Belgium’s neighbour the Netherlands was hit last week by anti-curfew riots, but protesters took a different tack Sunday in Apeldoorn under the rallying call of “Drinking coffee together”.
Around 400 people dispersed peacefully in the central Dutch city after gathering for an authorised demonstration at a community centre.
In Amsterdam, a heavy police presence thwarted a mainly peaceful but unauthorised demonstration.
Around 30 people were detained preventively following a ban on rallies near the Van Gogh, Rijks and Stedelijk museums.
Television footage showed a large group of police wearing riot gear in vans, and on horseback clearing out a square within minutes.