Protest against Covid-19 measures turns violent in Belgium

A protest by tens of thousands against coronavirus measures in Brussels turned violent on Sunday as protesters threw objects at police and officials used water cannons and tear gas to drive back the demonstration.

According to the police Estimates, around 35,000 people gathered in front of the Gare du Nord train station for the protest entitled “Together for Freedom” after the Belgian government announced stricter measures to combat the rising COVID-19 cases and hospital stays last week.

The new rules, which came into effect over the weekend, include the wearing of masks for everyone aged 10 and over for indoor and certain outdoor activities, as well as the obligation to work from home four days a week and limit the number of people attending meetings .

“We denounce the measures restricting freedom, which do not represent a structural solution for the health system,” said a statement by the protest organizers.

A group of demonstrators deviated from the approved route for the demonstration and were pushed back by police using water cannons and tear gas. Police at around 5:00 p.m. local time called the demonstration had broken up and the officers were making arrests.

The crowd in the protest was diverse, including retirees, families and children.

Doug Busvine contributed to the coverage.

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