Amsterdam: Thousands protest COVID measures despite ban on gatherings | News | DW | 02.01.2022

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Amsterdam: Thousands protest COVID measures despite ban on gatherings

There were some clashes between riot police and protesters, as thousands defied a ban on large gatherings in the Dutch capital.

Watch video 01:41

Police clash with demonstrators in Amsterdam

Thousands of people in Amsterdam defied a ban on large gatherings on Sunday as they took to the streets to show their displeasure at restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

Protesters congregated in the city center before marching toward a park in the Dutch capital where a rally of the populist Forum for Democracy party took place.

Brief clashes

A small group of protesters briefly clashed with riot police as officers made efforts to clear the crowd from Museum Square.

Police hold a demonstrator to the ground in Amsterdam

There were reports of at least one person being detained

Most people complied with the call to disperse, given via loudspeaker, from the square in front of the Rijksmuseum.

Before officers moved in, some people near the Van Gogh Museum unfurled a banner that read: "Less repression, more care." 

A group of people in white overalls and white masks held up signs, including one that said: "It's not about a virus, it's about control'' on one side and "Freedom" on the other.

One person in attendance held up a "Trump 2024" flag.

A protester raises a Trump flag at a protest against COVID restrictions in Amsterdam, Netherlands

At least one protester raised a 'Trump 2024' flag at the protest

Case numbers falling

The Netherlands is currently in a strict lockdown, which is expected to last until at least mid-January.

Despite the rapid spread of the highly contagious omicron variant, coronavirus infection rates in the Netherlands have been gradually decreasing in recent weeks.

The cases have been on the decline since the country reintroduced lockdown measures in November, before tightening them further during the holiday season.

The local government in Amsterdam had banned Sunday's protest, saying police had indications some protesters might be planning "violence." 

The municipality later issued an emergency order for people to leave the square. Riot police marched across the grass to clear the area, sending the demonstrators into nearby streets.

Watch video 02:21

Netherlands brings in lockdown to combat omicron

jsi/rs (AP, dpa)

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