Coronavirus curfew protests spark clashes in Netherlands

Protesters in Netherlands defied curfew and clashed with riot police after a weekend of unrest.

Police arrested more than 180 people in a third night of unrest in at least 10 cities across the nation. Groups of rioters set fires, threw rocks and looted stores.

Riot police clashed with protesters in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, as well as Amersfoort, Den Bosch, Alphen and Helmond.

Some of the worst disturbances were in the south of Rotterdam where police said 10 officers were hurt. Amsterdam’s mayor appealed to parents to keep young people indoors.

Fires were lit on the streets of The Hague, where police on bicycles attempted to move small clusters of men who threw stones and fireworks. There was violence in the southern city of Den Bosch, where rioters set off fireworks, broke windows, looted a supermarket and overturned cars.

Protesters are angry with the night time curfew that was approved by the Dutch Parliament last week.

A 9:00pm to 4.30am curfew kicked in on late on Saturday and is set to last until at least 10 February. Anyone found to be in violation faces a EUR €95 fine.

This is the country’s first curfew since World War II.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte condemned “criminal violence” and the justice minister said the curfew would remain.

The Dutch chief of police said the riots no longer had “anything to do with the basic right to demonstrate”.

The Netherlands has had nearly one million confirmed Covid cases since the start of the outbreak, with more than 13,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University in the US, which is tracking the pandemic.