Cars burned, shops were looted and stones pelted at a hospital: The Netherlands has forcibly started its first nationwide corona curfew. The political reaction is clear.
During protests against tightened corona restrictions, riots broke out in several Dutch cities on Sunday. Shortly before the curfew began at 9 p.m. on Sunday, there were riots in about ten cities, according to police. Police officers were attacked with fireworks and stones. Cars were set on fire in The Hague. Unrest has also been reported from Tilburg, Enschede, Venlo, Roermond, Breda, Arnheim and Apeldoorn, among others.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte strongly condemned the violence. “That is absolutely inadmissible, it has nothing to do with protests, it is criminal violence,” said Rutte on Monday in The Hague. In the evening, the mayor of Eindhoven, John Jorritsma, even warned of civil war. “If this continues, we are heading for civil war,” he told journalists.
Young people from Eindhoven had looted shops, threw bicycles and set fires. Cars were also set on fire. In the center of Amsterdam, the police used water cannons, dogs and mounted officers. In Enschede, rioters attacked a hospital by throwing stones.
The broadcaster NOS reported that riot police had been mobilized in at least ten cities that evening. The military police said on Twitter that they support local police officers in at least two cities. More than 240 people were arrested across the country. According to reports from the emergency services, it was only around midnight that silence returned in most places.
There were riots on social media on Sunday. Politicians condemned the violence. Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said this had nothing to do with legitimate political demonstrations. “This is simply criminal behavior.”
The evening before, there had been riots in the small town of Urk north of Amsterdam. According to the police, young people there set a corona test center of the health department on fire.
The protests were directed against the tightened measures to contain the coronavirus, including a night curfew. Parliament approved the restrictions with a narrow majority.
On Saturday evening, a curfew came into effect for the first time since the pandemic began. Citizens must stay in their homes from 9:00 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. Violations are punished with fines of 95 euros.
The number of new infections in the Netherlands has recently declined. The mutation of the virus, which first appeared in England, is of concern, however. In total, the Netherlands has so far recorded 13,540 corona deaths and 944,000 infections.