Rioters set fire to Dutch coronavirus testing centre as new curfew comes into effect

Riot police called in to help in Urk while thousands fined on first night of new curbs

<p>Riot police were called in as young rioters torched a coronavirus test centre in Urk</p>

Riot police were called in as young rioters torched a coronavirus test centre in Urk

A young crowd of rioters have burnt down a coronavirus testing centre in a conservative Dutch fishing village, as the first night of a nationwide curfew was met with a largely peaceful – but occasionally incendiary – response.

The angry mob was also accused of destroying police cars and pelting officers with bricks and fireworks in Urk, situated 50 miles northeast of Amsterdam, prompting the mayor to invoke emergency powers and call for riot police – who arrived after the crowd had been tamed.

Footage showed dozens of protesters at the village’s harbour as the new 9pm curfew came into effect, some blaring car and moped horns. While several fires appeared to have been lit, the largest was the blaze at a drive-through test centre, which was reduced to a burnt-out shell. 

Local officials and police issued a statement denouncing the protest as “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 centre to help people from Urk”, adding: “The curfew will be strictly enforced for the next week.”

Dutch police said it was “totally quiet” in most parts of the Netherlands after 9pm on Saturday, but some unrest was reported elsewhere.

Police said they handed out 3,600 fines for curfew violations and arrested 25 people who refused to go home or committed acts of violence.

More than a dozen arrests were made in the town of Stein after a group of around 100 young people refused to go home, some of whom shot fireworks at police, according to broadcaster 1Limburg. 

And in Rotterdam, 50 people were fined for protesting lockdown and the new curfew, Dutch News reported.

Meanwhile officers in Amsterdam apprehended almost 200 people at a protest at Museum Square on Sunday afternoon after mayor Femke Halsema designated the area as a "high-risk zone" to give police the power to frisk people for weapons.

More than 240 people were arrested across the country and riot police were deployed in at least 10 cities and towns after the curfew went into effect - with national broadcaster NOS reporting vehicles were set alight, police were pelted with stones and public property was destroyed.

Last Sunday, protesters clashed with riot police on horseback on the square, leading to the detention of 143 people.

The curfew – enforceable with €95 fine – was narrowly approved last week by Dutch politicians often swayed by assertions that the variant discovered in the UK is about to cause a new surge in cases. 

New infections in the Netherlands have generally been declining for a month, after hospitality venues shut in October and schools and non-essential shops closed in mid-December.

The last EU country to start vaccinating, only around 77,000 doctors and nurses have received a dose so far.

Additional reporting by agencies

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in