Anti-vaxxers in Brussels smash up police van as violence breaks out over Covid rules

22 November 2021, 09:25 | Updated: 22 November 2021, 09:28

By Megan Hinton

Protests over covid rules descended into violence for a third night as video footage from Brussels shows demonstrators destroying a police van.

As many as 35,000 people took to the streets in Brussels on Sunday protesting against reinforced Covid-19 restrictions, which came into force over the weekend.

In a video captured by a resident in Brussels, protestors can be seen attacking two police vans, using torn down road signs to smash through the vehicle’s windows.

Demonstrators were also seen pelting police with debris and setting rubbish bins ablaze, forcing them to respond with tear gas and water cannon.

Three police officials and one demonstrator were injured in the clashes.

As many as 35,000 people took to the streets in Brussels on Sunday protesting against Covid-19 restrictions
As many as 35,000 people took to the streets in Brussels on Sunday protesting against Covid-19 restrictions. Picture: LBC

New restrictions imposed by the Belgian government include compulsory mask-wearing for anyone aged 10 and above for indoor and certain outdoor activities, as well as making home-working mandatory four days a week and limiting the number of people who attend at gatherings and events.

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The measures were introduced in an attempt to curb the rise in coronavirus infections as the country continues to see a spike in infections.

It comes after the World Health Organisation said last week that Europe was the hotspot of the pandemic and the only region where Covid-19 deaths were rising.

A total of 42 protesters were detained and two were arrested and charged over the violence that followed the march, said police spokesman Ilse Vande Keere.

Shouting "Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!" and singing the anti-fascist song Bella Ciao, protesters lined up behind a huge banner saying "Together for Freedom" and marched to the European Union headquarters.

Belgium is not the only European country to see protests over the weekend with Croatia, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Austria also seeing thousands gather to oppose Covid rules.

Today Austria is entering a 10-day national lockdown, after first imposing a lockdown on the unvaccinated.

Austria's Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced the lockdown on Friday, as well as the introduction of a vaccine mandate which will take effect in February 2022.

He blamed the unvaccinated for the new measures, which come just days after a lockdown for un-jabbed people was announced earlier this week.

In the Netherlands, Rotterdam's mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, condemned "an orgy of violence" at Friday's demonstrations where seven people were hurt and more than 20 were arrested.

Read more: Over-40s in England invited for Covid booster jab

Read more: Austria announces full lockdown and mandatory Covid jabs

The Netherlands also intends to introduce a Covid vaccine pass and ban fireworks on New Year's Eve.

Meanwhile Switzerland is to hold a vote on November 28 about a covid certificate.

Thousands protested in Zurich against the nation's policies, including in response to the proposed certificates.

Croatia has also struggled with anti-vaxx theories, and less than half of the population have been vaccinated.

Thousands gathered in the capital Zagreb yesterday carrying Croatian flags, nationalist and religious symbols. Many held banners against vaccination.