Rioting Dutch youths torch COVID testing center | News | DW | 24.01.2021
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Rioting Dutch youths torch COVID testing center

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 ablaze

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'

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 fire

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)