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Dutch police break up thousands of anti-lockdown protesters

Police in the Netherlands dispersed thousands of anti-lockdown protesters outside the Hague on Sunday, one day before national elections begin in the country.

Reuters reports that police used batons and water cannons to disperse the crowd who authorities said were ignoring social distancing rules as well as warnings from authorities.

Twenty people were detained, authorities said, and two people were injured by police dogs after refusing to vacate the area.

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Many of those gathered in the crowd held up yellow umbrellas and signs in opposition that read  “Love, freedom, stop dictatorship," according to Reuters.

Despite the protest, the news outlet notes that a majority of Dutch voters support the lockdown as Netherland's coronavirus infection rate is on the high end of European countries.

The country has been under an intense lockdown since January, Reuters notes, with gatherings of more than two people banned and the first night-time curfew issued since World War II. When the lockdown was extended, it sparked several days of rioting across the country.

According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Netherlands has confirmed over 1.1 million coronavirus cases and more than 16,000 related deaths.

The Dutch national election begins on Mondays, with the polls set to be open for the next three days. Reuters notes that Prime Minister Mark Rutte's party, the conservative People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), is seeking another four years after winning in 2010.