Protesters angry at coronavirus restrictions staged rallies in a number of European cities, days after the Netherlands was rocked by riots over curfews.
In Brussels, Belgian police arrested scores of protesters on Sunday in an unauthorized demonstration against measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, including a nighttime curfew and the closure of bars and restaurants.
Belgium recorded one of the highest death rates in the world during the coronavirus pandemic, but restrictions introduced in October have resulted in fewer cases of infection and hospitalizations in the past two months.
Meanwhile, police dispersed protesters during a protest in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, where workers in the country’s ailing hospitality sector demanded civil disobedience and a review of lockdown restrictions.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has said it could only start easing measures if the number of cases drops sharply or if a large number of Hungarians are vaccinated.
Hungary, with a population of around 10 million, had reported a total of 367,586 cases on Sunday and 12,524 deaths. New infections are on the decline but more than 3,500 people are still hospitalized.
In the Austrian capital, Vienna, protesters clashed with police in riot gear at the site of a banned far-right protest against the coronavirus borders. Among the reported participants were well-known far-right figures.
Authorities had banned many protests planned for the weekend, including one by the far-right Freedom Party on Sunday, on the grounds that protesters generally failed to respect physical distance rules and often did not wear masks .
Since December 26, Austria has been in its third nationwide lockdown, with non-essential shops and many other businesses closed and their staff unable to work.
In Amsterdam, around 30 people were arrested when Dutch police launched a protest against the lockdown measures as authorities sought to prevent a repeat of the riots that raged in cities for three days last week.
Police said they sent home around 600 people who flouted physical distancing rules and ignored a nationwide ban on public gatherings by gathering in Amsterdam’s central Museumplein. No violent incident was reported late Sunday afternoon.