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Dutch, Italy protests as Europe cases rise

Protesters have taken to the streets in Italy and the Netherlands against coronavirus containment policies amid a surge in infections in some parts of Europe.

Thousands of people rallied across Italy, with about 4000 people gathering at the Arco della Pace peace arch in the northern metropolis of Milan on Saturday.

Robert Kennedy Jr, the nephew of former US president John F Kennedy, who is known as an opponent of vaccination, spoke at the event.

Among other things, demonstrators reject the so-called green pass which allows those vaccinated, recovered from an infection or tested access to certain events and venues.

Some also oppose COVID-19 vaccinations entirely.

Strict rules applied at the rally in Milan.

The Interior Ministry ruled during the week that demonstrations must stay in one place or only follow certain routes.

Previously, Saturday rallies ran through historical centres, disrupting business activities.

In some cases, there were clashes with the police.

In Rome, about 400 people came to the field of the ancient Circus Maximus, according to authorities.

In the northern city of Turin, numerous people marched through the city chanting “Liberta” (Freedom) and “La gente come noi non molla mai” (People like us never give up).

At least five protesters were taken into custody in the Hague after a demonstration against Dutch coronavirus restrictions turned violent, according to a report by the ANP news agency.

The demonstrators are accused of throwing rocks and fireworks at police officers and of ignoring police instructions during the event, which was eventually broken up by officers using water cannons.

The protests started shortly after Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced a series of new restrictions, set to last for three weeks, designed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, which is on the rise in the Netherlands.

Officials say restrictions on public gatherings and movement in open spaces is needed because of high infection rates and because the health care system is becoming overwhelmed.

Starting on Saturday, restaurants and supermarkets have to shut down by 8 pm.

Other shops are only allowed to be open until 6pm.

People have been told to keep 1.5 metres of distance between each other to minimise the disease’s spread and sports events must take place without spectators.

The country had only begun to ease coronavirus restrictions in September.

Europe appeared to be the epicentre of coronavirus pandemic as cases rose across the continent.

Russia on Saturday hit a new record high in COVID-19 deaths with 1239 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, according to official data.

Health authorities also reported 39,256 new infections in the last 24 hours.

The new record number of daily deaths is the third recorded this week in Russia.

Germany recorded for the sixth consecutive day its highest seven-day incidence rate, with 277.4 cases per 100,000 people, according to data reported on Saturday by the Robert Koch Institute for virology.

The incidence rate is increasing rapidly.

Only one month ago, the seven-day incidence rate stood at 65.4 cases per 100,000.

Germany reported 45,081 new infections in the last 24 hours – slightly lower than the record cases of 50,196 infections reported on Friday – in numbers significantly higher than the previous Saturday when 34,001 cases were reported.

In Austria, health authorities reported 13,152 new infections in the last 24 hours, a new daily record high.

The Austrian government announced on Friday it plans to impose a lockdown for the millions of unvaccinated people as the country faces a spike in infections.

with EFE

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