Belgium organizes ‘peaceful protest’ following new Covid-19 restrictions
Thousands of peaceful protesters demonstrated for the third time in central Brussels on Sunday against the tightening of Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the Belgian government to counter an upsurge in infections and the emergence of the disturbing Omicron variant.
A strong police presence has been deployed in the streets in anticipation of the crowds, after previous protests have sometimes resulted in violence, arrests and injuries.
The marchers – some with signs saying “free zone”, “I’ve had my fair dose” and “that’s enough” – came to protest against the government’s strong advice to get the vaccine, and included Belgian healthcare workers who will have three months to be vaccinated against the coronavirus from January 1 or risk losing their job.
The Belgian protests come a day after similar actions in other capitals, including Paris and London. Nations across Europe have moved to reimpose tougher measures to stem a new wave of Covid-19 infections triggered by the highly transmissible variant of Omicron. The Netherlands has led the way in imposing a nationwide lockdown.
The World Health Organization reported this weekend that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been detected in 89 countries, and Covid-19 cases involving the variant are doubling every one and a half to three days in places around community transmission and not just infections acquired abroad.
During a protest in Brussels last month, small fringes erupted into violence as several hundred people began bombarding police with objects, smashing cars and torching trash cans. Police responded with tear gas and water cannons.