Dutch police detain dozens after virus protest clashes

Dutch police in The Hague on Sunday fired water cannon to disperse protesters frustrated with the government's coronavirus policies, arresting dozens after skirmishes broke out, news wires reported. Hundreds of people gathered in the city centre, many carrying placards or holding hands, to demonstrate against measures including the 1.5 metre social distancing rule.

Acting mayor Johan Remkes had initially barred the protest but later agreed to a time-limited demonstration.

Police said the protest was peaceful until a group of football fans clashed with riot police at the nearby Central Station, throwing stones and bottles. Officers later surrounded dozens of demonstrators who refused to leave. "The remaining demonstrators refused to leave and have been detained under public demonstration legislation," The Hague police said in a tweet.

The Netherlands has been commended for its "intelligent lockdown" approach, which was less strict than some other European countries, with no full stay-at-home orders. Restaurants, cinemas, cafes, museums and terraces were all authorised to open on 1 June, but with social distancing rules in place and establishments limited to a maximum of 30 customers.

The Netherlands has confirmed 49,593 cases and 6,090 deaths.

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