Police in the Dutch city of Rotterdam clashed with protesters Friday and fired warning shots as riots erupted over an effort to push new COVID-19 measures, injuring at least seven people, authorities said Friday.
“A demonstration on the Coolsingel resulted in riots. Fires have been set in various places, fireworks are set off and the police have fired several (warning) shots,” the National Police Corps tweeted.
Dozens of arrests have been made, police said. The agency said a large number of police were present in the area and units have been redeployed from all over the country to help restore order. Seven people were injured, including police officers, authorities said.
Two train stations were closed and a water launcher was being used, authorities said. Several warnings shots were fired and the situation became so dangerous, police said, that officers fired at a moment’s notice.
Videos posted online show cars, including police vehicles, charred and engulfed in flames. People were also seen throwing objects at the police.
An emergency order remains in effect and residents were told to stay away from the area around Coolsingel, one of the city’s most popular streets. The riots came amid a new government effort to stem the uptick in COVID-19 infections.
The government has said it wants to introduce a law that would allow businesses to restrict the country’s coronavirus pass system to only people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 — that would exclude people who test negative.
The country has seen a string of record numbers of infections in recent days and a new partial lockdown came into force a week ago.
In January, rioting broke out in Rotterdam and other Dutch cities after the government announced a curfew in an attempt to rein in soaring coronavirus infections.
Earlier Friday, the government banned fireworks on Dec. 31 for the second straight year. The ban is intended “to prevent, as much as possible, extra strain on health care, law enforcement and first responders,” the government said Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.