Netherlands police open fire after COVID-19 protests turn violent

At least seven were injured after police opened fire during large protests against COVID-19 restrictions in the Netherlands on Friday.

Protesters flooded the streets of Rotterdam Friday night, objecting to renewed restrictions and a vaccine passport mandate the European country is implementing to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Two people were hospitalized and 51 were arrested during the demonstration, Reuters reported.

In videos posted to Twitter, protesters can be seen running rampant while gunshots can be heard in the background. Police were allegedly firing warning shots while also using water cannons on protesters who were throwing rocks, according to Reuters.

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The mayor of the city called the rioting an "orgy of violence" and the justice minister for the country, Ferd Grapperhaus, said the protest was "repulsive," Reuters reported.

"The right to protest is very important in our society but what we saw last night was simply criminal behavior," Grapperhaus said.

The Dutch are protesting the vaccine mandate, which requires proof of a negative test or inoculation against COVID-19 to enter indoor restaurants and businesses. Citizens are also objecting to a partial lockdown in the country that forces businesses to close early.

Officials ordered the renewed restrictions after confirmed cases of COVID-19 are up more than 2,000 in the past seven days.

Protests against COVID-19 restrictions have erupted across Europe, which is seeing another wave of coronavirus infections. On Saturday, thousands took to the streets in Vienna in opposition to an upcoming lockdown in Austria.