Terrifying footage on the Internet captured the moment when riot police with batons and shields tried to break up a crowd of several thousand when police dogs attacked demonstrators. Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema issued an emergency ordinance authorizing police to vacate the central museum square after protesters violated a ban on public gatherings during the recent wave of coronavirus infections. The protesters, who mostly did not wear masks and violated social distancing rules, also ignored an order not to hold a march and walked down a main thoroughfare, playing music and holding yellow umbrellas as a sign of opposition to government measures.
The Netherlands was suddenly put under lockdown on December 19, with the government ordering the closure of all stores except the main ones, as well as restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums and other public places until at least January 14.
Public gatherings of more than two people are prohibited under current restrictions.
Like other European countries, the Netherlands have taken measures to prevent a new wave of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus that could overwhelm an already strained healthcare system.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the sudden closure on Saturday evening and ordered the closure of all stores but the main ones, as well as restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums and other public places.
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The news came as a shock to many Dutch people as they headed into the Christmas and New Year season.
Lots of people rushed out on Saturday to stock up on gifts, food and get their hair cut at the last minute.
Hospitality workers called for compensation for lost income during the holiday season, while gym owners stressed the importance of exercise during a health crisis.
“Closing all bars and restaurants in such an important month is incredibly painful and dramatic.
But cases with the Omicron variant have increased rapidly since early December, and the strain is expected to become dominant before the end of the year.
This will be a big problem for hospitals that have been canceling regular care for weeks to avoid running out of beds due to the high number of COVID-19 patients on their wards.
The government said Saturday it would speed up the administration of booster vaccinations after a slow start to the campaign and is now aiming to give extra vaccinations to anyone over 60 before the end of the month.
Percent of the Dutch adult population are vaccinated, less than 9 percent of adults have received a booster vaccination, one of the lowest rates in Europe.