Belgian police use water cannon, tear gas against crowd protesting COVID restrictions

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BRUSSELS – Belgian police used water cannons and tear gas on Sunday to disperse some rowdy demonstrators in Brussels, as most protesters marched peacefully to protest tough COVID-19 restrictions aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus. to counter the growth.

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Thousands came out to reject the new measures announced on Friday, the third week in a row that the government has tightened its rules as an avalanche of new cases hit the country’s health services, leaving people without treatment for other lives. -Deprived of threatening diseases.

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Shout “Freedom! Freedom!” And carrying banners that read, “United for our freedom, rights and our children,” protesters marched to EU headquarters. Some were critical of vaccines and even hinted against making vaccine shots mandatory.

The main crowd had already dispersed on Sunday’s mostly peaceful march, when about 100 protesters ran into a riot police barricade closing off access to the European Commission. After a brief standoff with the police, the protesters hurled garbage and other items, including a bicycle, at the police and set fire to firecrackers. Police used water cannons and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

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On Friday, Prime Minister Alexander de Cru announced that day care centers and primary schools would close for the holiday a week earlier, and that children would now be required to wear masks from the age of 6. Indoor events will only be allowed with a maximum of 200 people.

Earlier, the government had shut down nightclubs, and ordered bars and restaurants to close at 11 pm for three weeks. There was speculation that the closing time would be brought to 8 pm but the cabinet decided against it.

The EU’s country of 11 million has reached a plateau, according to the latest coronavirus figures.

Belgium recorded 17,862 new daily cases on a weekly average, a 6% increase from the previous week. Hospital admissions increased by 4%. More than 3,700 people are hospitalized with the virus, of whom 821 are in intensive care. More than 27,000 people have died in Belgium since the outbreak began last year.

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