Protest in Netherlands against coronavirus measures

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Protest In Netherlands Against Coronavirus Measures Protest In Netherlands Against Coronavirus Measures
Thousands of protesters packed Amsterdam's streets on Sunday in opposition to the government-imposed Covid-19 measures. Photo: Getty Images
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By Piroschka van de Wouw

Thousands of protesters packed Amsterdam's streets on Sunday in opposition to the government-imposed Covid-19 measures and vaccination campaign as virus infections hit a new record.

Authorities were granted stop and search powers at several locations across the city and scores of riot police vans patrolled neighbourhoods where the demonstrators marched with banners and yellow umbrellas.

Regular anti-coronavirus protests are held across the country and Sunday's large gathering was joined by farmers who drove to the capital and parked tractors along the central Museum Square.

The crowd played music, chanted anti-government slogans and then marched along thoroughfares, blocking traffic.

The Netherlands had one of Europe's toughest lockdowns for a month through the end-of-year holidays.

Demonstrators - some wearing military camouflage jackets and berets - march with flags on their way from Oosterpark to Museumplein in Amsterdam on January 16th, 2022, as they protest against the Netherlands government's coronavirus policy. Photo: Phil nijhuis /ANP/AFP/via Getty Images

Amid growing public opposition, prime minister Mark Rutte on Friday announced the reopening of stores, hairdressers and gyms, partially lifting a lockdown despite record numbers of new Covid-19 cases.

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Infections reached another record high above 36,000 on Sunday, data published by the Netherlands Institute for Health (RIVM) showed. The Netherlands has recorded more than 3.5 million infections and 21,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Mr Rutte's government ordered the lockdown in mid-December as a wave of the Delta variant forced the health system to cancel all but the most urgent care, and it appeared rising Omicron cases would overwhelm it.

Non-essential stores, hairdressers, beauty salons and other service providers were allowed to reopen on Saturday under strict conditions.

Bars, restaurants and cultural venues have been instructed to remain closed until at least January 25th due to uncertainty about how the Omicron wave will impact hospital capacity.

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