Anti-lockdown protesters march through Dutch city of Utrecht

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Thousands have marched peacefully through the Dutch city of Utrecht to protest the government’s coronavirus lockdown measures

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Holding balloons, umbrellas and banners that said: “This is not right,” protesters watched as a large police presence moved from a park to the city center without incident.

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Sibke Koopmann said he was demonstrating against more than just the Dutch government’s COVID-19 restrictions.

The Dutch government partially imposed a lockdown three weeks ago and further tightened it a week ago as COVID-19 infections were the highest since the start of the pandemic. Among the measures, all bars, restaurants and other public places including stores selling non-essential items will have to be closed at 5 pm

The Dutch infection rate began to decline slightly this week but remains close to record highs.

A demonstration in the port city of Rotterdam turned into street violence so soon after a partial lockdown was announced last month that police officers opened fire on rioters.

More than 600 passengers arrived from South Africa on 26 November, the day the Dutch government banned flights from southern Africa amid concerns about Omicron.

Passengers who had the new version either had mild symptoms or no symptoms.

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Associated Press writer Mike Korder contributed from The Hague.

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