Troubled youngsters torch Covid-19 testing site in Netherlands

Troubled youngsters torch Covid-19 testing site in Netherlands

With files from the Associated Press

The Netherlands has endured its first night of curfew imposed in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus. The restriction was broken at multiple locations with things getting particularly hot in one town.

A group of rowdy protesters gathered in the port area of Urk, 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of the capital, Amsterdam overnight, shortly after the curfew went into effect at 9pm. The group was driving cars, honking horns, and waving national flags at the square, footage from the scene shows.

The protesters became rowdy and set a drive-in coronavirus site located at the square on fire. The group then apparently waited for police to arrive to taunt the officers and pelt them with various projectiles.

Minor scuffles between the curfew-defiant individuals and police were also observed in other parts of the town. Some protesters launched fireworks at the officers, who arrived in full riot gear and a sizeable unit of police dogs.

The nighttime unrest was condemned by local authorities. Mayor Cees van den Bos called the events “dramatic” and shameful.

“This is not only unacceptable, but also a slap in the face, especially for the local health authority staff who do all they can at the test center to help people from Urk,” the local authorities said, promising to strictly enforce the curfew in the future.

A similar incident also unfolded in the town of Stein close to the border with Belgium. A group of around 100 young people gathered in the streets, playing music and drinking. When a sizeable police force was deployed to disperse them, scuffles ensued, resulting in at least 14 arrests.

Unlike many countries worldwide, the Netherlands took a laissez-faire approach in battling the coronavirus pandemic throughout most of 2020. The situation changed in December, as cases mounted and the government turned to harsher measures, and ultimately to the first curfew since WWII.

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