Belgium: Police fire tear gas at Covid restrictions protest

AFP

2 min read
Demonstrators take part in a rally to protest against the government's Covid restrictions in Brussels, Belgium, on December 5, 2021.
Kenzo Tribouillard/AFPDemonstrators take part in a rally to protest against the government's Covid restrictions in Brussels, Belgium, on December 5, 2021.

Police said two of their officers and four protesters were hospitalized, and 20 people were arrested

Belgian police fired water cannons and used tear gas Sunday to disperse protesters opposed to compulsory health measures against the Covid pandemic.

Around 8,000 people marched through Brussels towards the headquarters of the European Union, chanting "Freedom!" and letting off fireworks.

The crowd was smaller than the 35,000 vaccine and lockdown sceptics who marched last month, and police were better prepared.

Protesters were blocked from reaching the roundabout outside the European Union headquarters by a barbed wire barricade and a line of riot officers.

As two drones and a helicopter circled overhead, they threw fireworks and beer cans. Police responded with water cannons and tear gas.

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As the crowd dispersed into smaller groups around the European quarter, there were more clashes and some set fire to barricades of rubbish.

Police said two of their officers and four protesters were hospitalized, and 20 people were arrested.

The demonstrators oppose compulsory health measures - such as masks, lockdowns and vaccine passes - and some share conspiracy theories.

On Friday, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo announced a series of measures to tighten sanitary rules, bringing school Christmas holidays forward and asking children aged six and over to wear masks.

Belgium, with a population of 11 million, recorded an average of more than 17,800 daily infections with Covid over the past seven days, as well as 44 deaths. 

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