WATCH: Water cannon, tear gas deployed amid chaotic Covid-19 protests in Brussels
Thousands of people marched through the streets of Belgium’s capital Brussels on Sunday, protesting new Covid-19 restrictions. A group of demonstrators clashed with police, who responded with tear gas and water cannon.
Some 8,000 people took park in the street protests in Brussels on Sunday, according to police estimates. The participants condemned the government’s Covid-19 policies, including vaccination and the rollout of a coronavirus health pass, which they claim infringes on human rights and freedoms.
🇧🇪 The Brussels firefighter and care worker protest before the police jumped in and shot tear gas and water at them "for their health". pic.twitter.com/J7RYH8VjxW— Anonymous UK Citizen (@AnonCitizenUK) December 5, 2021
The marchers were escorted by a large police force, with the event proceeding peacefully overall and only sporadic object-throwing at officers reported. The protesters were seen carrying assorted placards, reading “Covid is an organized genocide,” “QR = swastika,” “United for our freedom, rights and our children,” and the like.
While the majority of marchers seemingly dispersed of its own accord after the event was over, a smaller group of rowdy protesters ran into a heavy police barricade guarding the perimeter of Brussels’ EU quarter, housing the European Commission and other Eurocrat buildings.
Situation très tendue à #Bruxelles. La police charge et utilise trois canons à eau et de nombreuses grenades lacrymogènes pour disperser les manifestants. (@vecumedia) #Brusselpic.twitter.com/mMH82G8L8i— Anonyme Citoyen (@AnonymeCitoyen) December 5, 2021
Footage from the scene showed the protesters pelting police officers with flares, fireworks and other objects. Law enforcement responded with tear gas and water cannon, with at least one protester seen knocked down and swept away by the water jet. The police urged the crowd to disperse, threatening to arrest those who didn’t comply.
Protests against anti-coronavirus restrictions continue for the third consecutive weekend in Brussels, with thousands hitting the streets of the city to condemn the government policies. Ahead of the new round of the protests, Brussels announced new restrictions aimed at tackling the spread of Covid-19 and its recently-detected variant, Omicron.
The new measures include mandatory mask-wearing for children as young as six, as well as the limiting of indoor events to 200 attendees. The government also announced the closure, a week early, of day care centers and schools for the upcoming holidays, citing the coronavirus situation.
Over the past week, some 17,800 new cases of coronavirus were detected in the country on average every day. Belgium, a nation of some 11.5 million people, has registered over 1.8 million cases of Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, with more than 27,000 people succumbing to the disease.