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Dutch youths torch COVID testing center

January 24, 2021

The young people were protesting a nationwide curfew that went into effect on Saturday in a bid to rein in the coronavirus. Further demonstrations are planned for Sunday afternoon in Amsterdam.

The portable test center on fire in a car park
Local youths broke into the test center before setting it ablazeImage: ProNews Producties/ANP/picture alliance

Youths torched a COVID-19 testing center and threw fireworks at police in the central Dutch fishing village of Urk overnight into Sunday.

They were protesting a nationwide curfew that went into effect on Saturday in a bid to rein in the coronavirus pandemic.

The curfew runs from 9:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. local time (2030 to 0330 UTC/GMT) and will remain in place until February 9.

Video footage from Urk shows the youths breaking into the portable test center near the village's harbor before setting it ablaze.

a burnt out portable test center
Police called the incident 'a slap in the face'Image: Jeroen Jumelet/ANP/picture alliance

The police and municipality issued a statement Sunday, saying the torching of the center was "a deep point" in a night that had also seen people throw stones and destroy police cars.

The rioting was "not only unacceptable but also a slap in the face" to local health authority staff, the local police added.

New infections in the Netherlands have generally been declining for a month. But parliament voted narrowly last week to approve the measure, concerned that a more contagious English variant may be about to cause a surge in cases.

Exceptions to the curfew include medical emergencies, people performing essential jobs and people walking their dogs. Violators can be fined €95 ($115).

the burnt out inside of the test center
The portable test center in Urk was completely gutted by the fireImage: Jeroen Jumelet/ANP/picture alliance

Public takes aim at curfew

Across the Netherlands, police said they arrested a total of 25 people and handed out 3,600 fines for violations of the curfew from Saturday into Sunday.

Last Sunday, COVID lockdown skeptics clashed with riot police on horseback in a central square in Amsterdam. A total of 143 people were detained.

Another protest against the new measures is planned for Sunday afternoon in the same square.

Mayor Femke Halsema designated the area as a "high-risk zone" to give police the power to frisk people for weapons.

kmm/mm (Reuters, AP)