Water cannons and tear gas used after Brussels anti-restriction protests turn violent

5 December 2021, 19:43 | Updated: 5 December 2021, 20:00

Whilst most of the protest was peaceful, demonstrations turned violent later on
Whilst most of the protest was peaceful, demonstrations turned violent later on. Picture: Getty

By Daisy Stephens

Belgian police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters in Brussels on Sunday after a small number of protesters marching against new Covid measures turned violent.

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Some of the protesters threw rubbish and other objects - including a bicycle - at police, and set off firecrackers and flares.

The police retaliated by using a water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

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Thousands of people gathered to reject the new measures announced on Friday, with some shouting "freedom!" and carrying banners reading "United for our freedom, rights and out children".

Some also carried anti-vaccine banners as they marched to the European Union headquarters in the city.

Whilst most of the crowd at Sunday's march were peaceful and dispersed quickly, around 100 protesters ran into a riot police barricade cordoning off access to the European Commission and the demonstration turned violent.

There was a heavy police presence at the demonstration
There was a heavy police presence at the demonstration. Picture: Getty

Friday's announcement meant it was the third week in a row the government tightened its rules as an avalanche of new cases put increasing pressure on the health service, depriving people with other life-threatening diseases of treatment.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Friday that day care centres and primary schools would close for the holiday a week early, and that children must wear masks from the age of six.

Indoor events would only be allowed with a maximum of 200 people.

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The government previously closed nightclubs, and ordered bars and restaurants to shut at 11pm for three weeks.

Speculation had been rife that closing times would be brought forward to 8pm, but ministers decided against it.

According to the latest coronavirus figures, the EU nation of 11 million appears to have reached a plateau.

On a weekly average, 17,862 new daily cases were reported in Belgium, a rise of 6 per cent compared to the previous week.

Hospital admissions rose by 4 per cent.

More than 3,700 people are in hospital with the virus, 821 of them in intensive care.

More than 27,000 people with the virus have died in Belgium since the outbreak began last year.

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