Police say at least 70 people have been arrested after unrest and looting in towns across the country.
Police in the Netherlands have arrested at least 70 people after riots broke out for a third night on Monday, following anger-sparked weekend protests over a nighttime curfew and a lockdown imposed due to coronavirus.
Riot police clashed with groups of protesters and used water cannons against looters in the port city of Rotterdam, where the mayor issued a decree expanding police arrest powers.
Tear gas was used to disperse crowds in Haarlem, as unrest spread to small towns including Amersfoort in the east, Geleen in the south and The Hague.
Police chief Willem Woelders said on television that 70 arrests took place around 10 p.m. (9 p.m. GMT).
Geleen police said in a previous tweet that they were dealing with “young riots that start fireworks”.
Previously, Prime Minister Mark Rutte condemned what he called the “criminal violenceFrom the night before, which police officials called “the worst riot in 40 years.”
The curfew, the first in the Netherlands since World War II, was imposed after the National Institute for Health (RIVM) warned of a new wave of cases due to the ‘UK variant’ of COVID- 19, although the number of new infections in the Netherlands have been declining for weeks. Some 4,129 new cases were reported on Monday, the lowest number since December 1.
Violators of the 9:00 p.m. (8:00 p.m. GMT) curfew to 4:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. GMT), which will remain in effect until at least February 10, may be fined 95 euros (115 $).
There are a number of exemptions, including for people who have to work, attend funerals or walk their dogs, provided they present a certificate.
The Netherlands was already under its toughest measures since the start of the pandemic, with bars and restaurants having closed in October and schools and non-essential shops closed since December.
Images posted to social media on Monday showed rioters looting a store in Den Bosch and a press photographer getting hit on the head in Haarlem, after an angry mob chased him away and threw a brick at him.
Police union chief Koen Simmers told NOS on Monday that the police were ready in case the riots continued.
“I hope it was a once in a lifetime event, but I’m afraid it could be a harbinger for the days and weeks to come,” said Simmers.