Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters were blasted with water cannons after they took to the streets in objection to the return of Covid restrictions in the Netherlands.
Dutch police blasted a group of around 200 people in The Hague with water in a bid to disperse demonstrators, who were lobbing stones and fireworks.
Tensions rose as Prime Minister Mark Rutte gave a press briefing to the media on Friday evening about the return of a partial lockdown.
Footage shows dozens of protestors sitting on the ground where they brace for impact as police turn water cannons on them.
Flares, projectiles and bikes were thrown at police, who were seen hitting fleeing demonstrators with batons.
Deaths from Covid remain low in the Netherlands, but the country recorded its highest ever daily infection count on Friday, when medics warned hospitals were being put under huge pressure due to the surge.
Stores selling non-essential items will have to close at 6pm, and sports games will once again take place in empty stadiums.
‘Tonight we are bringing a very unpleasant message with very unpleasant and far-reaching measures,’ Rutte said in a televised address on Friday evening. ‘The virus is everywhere and needs to be combated everywhere.’
The announcement marked a dramatic change of policy for the Dutch government, which until last month had thought that a relatively high vaccination rate would allow it to avoid any more measures.
Nearly 85% of the adult Dutch population has been double jabbed. A booster programme due to begin in December for the elderly and healthcare workers has now been brought forward.
The Netherlands is the first country in Western Europe to introduce restrictions since a new wave of infections began surging across parts of the continent.
Boris Johnson has warned the Covid ‘storm clouds’ in neighbouring countries could hit the UK next as he urged everyone to get a booster.
But experts believe another lockdown won’t be necessary here due to the high levels of immunity among the population.
Elsewhere, Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said his country will implement a lockdown for unvaccinated people in two hard-hit regions next week.
Starting Monday, unvaccinated people in the regions of Upper Austria and Salzburg will only be allowed to leave home for essential reasons, such as buying groceries or going to the doctor.
Meanwhile, Germany’s disease control centre is urging people to cancel or avoid large events and to reduce their contacts.