Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Monday condemned the riots that took place across the country this weekend. Demonstrators attacked the police and set fire to protest the night curfew to slow the spread of the coronavirus, calling it “criminal violence.”
Police said hundreds of people have been detained since the incident that began on Saturday night and lasted until early Monday morning, including some rioters who threw stones and knives at the police and burned down a COVID-19 testing station. “This has nothing to do with protests, this is criminal violence, and we will follow this analogy.”
Rutte told reporters outside the Hague office. Since mid-December, schools and non-essential shops in the Netherlands have been closed. Bars and restaurants closed two months ago.
The Rutte government made the curfew an additional lockdown measure on Saturday because of concerns that the UK variant of COVID-19 may soon lead to an increase in cases. In the Netherlands, COVID-19 caused 13,540 deaths and 944,000 infections.
The police union NPB said that as people become increasingly frustrated with the months-long blockade in the country, there may be more protests in the future. Union board member Koen Simmers said on the TV show Nieuwsuur: “We haven’t seen so much violence in 40 years.”
The police used water cannons in the center of Amsterdam on Sunday afternoon. Dogs and police officers dispersed the protest. Nearly 200 people were detained in the city, some of whom threw stones and fireworks.