Belgian police use water and tear gas against COVID-19 protesters

Brussels (Associated Press)-After most demonstrators marched peacefully to protest the COVID-19 restriction measures aimed at coping with the surge in coronavirus infections, the Belgian police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse some noisy protesters in Brussels on Sunday .

Thousands of people opposed the new measures announced on Friday. This is the third consecutive week that the government has tightened rules because a large number of new cases have put pressure on the country’s health services and deprived people with other life-threatening diseases from treatment.

Shouting “Freedom! Freedom!” The protesters marched to the EU headquarters holding banners that read “Unite for our freedom, rights and our children.” Some people also carry signs of criticizing the vaccine and opposing compulsory vaccination.

When about 100 protesters stormed the riot police barricades that blocked access to the European Commission, most of the main crowd of the peaceful march on Sunday had dispersed. After a brief confrontation with the police, the protesters straddled trash and other objects (including bicycles) to the police and set off firecrackers and flares. The police used high-pressure water cannons and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. No injuries were reported immediately.

On Friday, Prime Minister Alexander De Crowe announced that day care centers and elementary schools will be closed for holidays one week in advance, and children must now wear masks from the age of 6. Up to 200 people are allowed to participate in indoor activities.

Previously, the government closed nightclubs and ordered bars and restaurants to close at 11pm for three weeks. It is widely speculated that the closing time will be advanced to 8 o’clock in the evening, but the cabinet decided against it.

According to the latest coronavirus data, this EU country with a population of 11 million appears to have reached a stable level.

Belgium reports an average of 17,862 new cases every week, an increase of 6% from the previous week. The number of hospitalizations increased by 4%. More than 3,700 people were hospitalized due to the virus, of which 821 were in the intensive care unit. Since the outbreak last year, more than 27,000 people in Belgium have died from the virus.

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Follow all Associated Press reports on the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

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