The third demonstration of thousands of peaceful protesters in central Brussels occurred on Sunday, this latest demonstration against their government’s reinforced COVID-19 restrictions imposed to counter a spike in infections and emerging omicron variant.
Given that prior protests had sometimes descended into violence, arrests, and injuries, there was a heavy police presence on streets in preparation for the crowds.
The streets of downtown Portland were the scene for a tense but peaceful demonstration on Friday evening. With police officers and an extensive security presence, it was expected that any protestors would remain in control during this event.
Some marchers held placards that read “free zone,” “I’ve had my fair share” and “enough is enough”, protesting the government’s strong recommendation for vaccination, which includes Belgian health care workers who have a three-month window from Jan. 1 to get vaccinated against the Coronavirus or risk losing their jobs.
Similar protests were held in other capitals, including Paris and London, one day prior to the Belgian one. Over the past few weeks, national governments across Europe have reimposed tougher measures aimed at stemming a new wave of COVID-19 infections caused by the highly transmissible omicron variant of the disease. The Netherlands is leading the pack by imposing a nationwide lockdown.
The World Health Organization reported this weekend that the omicron variant of the coronavirus has been detected in 89 countries and that cases of COVID-19 that involve this variant are doubling within a few days in areas with community transmission and not just infections acquired abroad.
Several hundred demonstrators pelted police smashed cars and set trash cans on fire during a demonstration in Brussels last month, resulting in violence. The violence was combated with tear gas and water cannons by the security forces.