Protesters take to the streets in Belgium as rules tighten for the third week in a row

Belgian police today used water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters in Brussels during demonstrations against tightened Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the government to counter the latest spike in coronavirus cases.

Hordes of protesters marched through the streets to the European Union headquarters, shouting ‘Freedom! Freedom!’ and carrying placards reading “everyday fascism” decorated with yellow stars, drawing comparisons to the identification labels Jews were required to wear in Nazi-occupied Europe.

The government introduced new Covid restrictions on Friday – the third week in a row that the rules have been tightened amid the latest wave of cases.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced that kindergartens and primary schools will close a week earlier due to the holiday period and that children from 6 years old must wear a mouth cap. Indoor events are only allowed with a maximum of 200 people.

Earlier, the government closed nightclubs and ordered bars and restaurants to close at 11 p.m. for three weeks.

The main crowd during Sunday’s largely peaceful march had already dispersed when about 100 protesters encountered a riot police barricade blocking access to the European Commission.

After a brief confrontation with the police, protesters threw garbage and other objects, including a bicycle, at the police and set off fireworks and flares.

It comes a day after many cities in Europe saw demonstrations against new restrictions in the run-up to Christmas – more than 40,000 people held protests in Vienna, Austria, while thousands gathered in the streets of Utrecht in the Netherlands and Frankfurt in Germany.

Austria last month became the first country in Western Europe to reintroduce a 20-day lockdown, and said it would make vaccinations mandatory from February.

It comes as governments across Europe warn of the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant now registered in several countries, including the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and Norway.

Protesters set off fireworks during a protest against coronavirus measures in Brussels, Belgium, as riot police shelter behind vehicles today

Police used water cannons to disperse protesters when clashes broke out in Brussels today during a demonstration against the Belgian government's measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 and mandatory vaccination

Police used water cannons to disperse protesters when clashes broke out in Brussels today during a demonstration against the Belgian government’s measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 and mandatory vaccination

A protester holds a banner "the mask must fall" during a protest against the Belgian government's restrictions to contain the spread of the corona virus

A protester holds a banner that reads ‘the mask must fall’ during a protest against Belgium’s government restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus

Protesters protest Belgian government restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brussels, Belgium December 5, 2021

Protesters protest Belgian government restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brussels, Belgium December 5, 2021

Protesters march during a protest against coronavirus measures in Brussels, Belgium, Sunday, December 5, 2021. Kindergartens and primary schools are now closing a week earlier due to the holiday season, on December 20, children are required to wear masks from the age of 6

Protesters march during a protest against coronavirus measures in Brussels, Belgium, Sunday, December 5, 2021. Kindergartens and primary schools are now closing a week earlier due to the holiday season, on December 20, children are required to wear masks from the age of 6

Belgium reported a weekly average of 17,862 new daily cases this week, a 6 percent increase from the previous week, with a 4 percent increase in hospital admissions.

More than 3,700 people are in hospital with the virus, 821 of whom are in intensive care, while more than 27,000 people have died since the outbreak last year.

Meanwhile, police in Austria used pepper spray and made several arrests on Saturday as more than 40,000 people marched through Vienna to protest a lockdown and plans to mandate vaccinations.

Facing a spate of infections, the government last month made Austria the first country in Western Europe to reinstate a lockdown and said it would make vaccinations mandatory from February.

People carried placards reading: ‘I will decide for myself’, ‘Make Austria Great Again’ and ‘New Elections’ – a nod to the political turmoil that has seen three chancellors within two months – as crowds gathered.

“I’m here because I’m against forced vaccinations. I am for human rights, and the violation of human rights must be stopped,” one protester told Reuters.

“We protect our children,” said another.

In Austria, unvaccinated people who break the lockdown rules risk fines of up to €500. Anyone who refuses to comply with vaccination status checks can be fined up to €1,450.

Austria, a country of 8.9 million inhabitants, has reported nearly 1.2 million cases of coronavirus and more than 12,000 COVID-19-related deaths since the start of the pandemic last year.

People take part in an anti-coronavirus protest in Brussels, Belgium, December 5, 2021. In an effort to tackle yet another COVID-19 wave, the Belgian government has imposed strict measures, pushing thousands of people to the streets to protest against mandatory vaccinations, health pass and anti-coronavirus measures.

People take part in an anti-coronavirus protest in Brussels, Belgium, December 5, 2021. In an effort to tackle yet another COVID-19 wave, the Belgian government has imposed strict measures, pushing thousands of people to the streets to protest against mandatory vaccinations, health pass and anti-coronavirus measures.

People protesting against lockdown measures and Covid vaccinations yesterday marched through Vienna's city center

People protesting against lockdown measures and Covid vaccinations yesterday marched through Vienna’s city center

Several thousand people gathered in Utrecht on Saturday to protest against the new coronavirus restrictions that came into effect last weekend.

It is the first major demonstration in the Netherlands against last week’s measures, which include an overnight closure of bars, restaurants and most shops to contain a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases.

The Netherlands saw violent protests two weeks ago after the government announced plans to ban most people who have not been vaccinated from public places.

Those plans have encountered widespread opposition in parliament, including from parties in the governing coalition, and have not yet been implemented.

Smaller protests were also held in Frankfurt, Germany, as well as Barcelona, ​​Spain and the city of York.

A banner, right, reads 'Unvaccinated Lives Matter' as thousands of protesters marched in Utrecht, Netherlands yesterday

A banner, right, reads ‘Unvaccinated Lives Matter’ as thousands of protesters marched in Utrecht, Netherlands yesterday

Hundreds of protesters gathered in York for a so-called 'freedom protest' and took part in musical performances outside York Minster yesterday

Hundreds of protesters gathered in York for a so-called ‘freedom protest’ and took part in musical performances outside York Minster yesterday

Protesters waved flags as they took part in protests in York on Saturday

Protesters waved flags as they took part in protests in York on Saturday

Britain’s Omicron outbreak grows by more than 50% in a day, with 86 new cases bringing the total to 246, as the scientist warns it’s ‘too late’ to stop the spread and the variant will develop an outbreak within weeks. can become dominant species

The number of new cases of Omicron reported in the UK has risen by 86, bringing the total number of cases to 246 – an increase of more than 50 per cent in the span of a day.

The UK Health Security Agency, which publishes the figures, said 18 of the new cases are in Scotland, bringing the total to 48.

It comes as a leading scientist warned Britain has left it “too late” to stop the spread of the Omicron supervariant.

Professor Mark Woolhouse said installing new curbs when traveling ‘is a matter of closing the stable door after the horse has stalled’.

The University of Edinburgh epidemiologist said it “spread pretty quickly” and could become the world’s dominant species.

It was announced on Saturday that all travelers arriving in England will be required to take a Covid-19 pre-departure test from Tuesday.

The ministers said the test was intended as a temporary measure following new data showing an increase in cases of the new strain linked to foreign travel.

Meanwhile, Nigeria is being added to the government’s red travel list as a blow to those who want to see family during the holiday season.

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