Netherlands rocked by third night of protests

Police in the Netherlands arrested at least 70 people on Monday after riots broke out across the country for a third night in a row.

In Rotterdam, anti-lockdown demonstrators started fires and clashed with police in protest of a new night-time curfew.

There were similar scenes in Amsterdam, as well as the smaller centres of Haarlem, Geleen and Den Bosch.

The 9pm to 4:30am curfew came into force on Saturday evening to curb the spread of coronavirus.

It's the country's first nationwide curfew since World War Two.

Many say it's not necessary as cases of COVID-19 are falling in the Netherlands, with the lowest number of cases reported on Monday since Dec. 1.

But the government is worried about a highly contagious UK variant of the disease spreading.

The unrest started over the weekend, when protesters in several cities looted stores, started fires, and clashed with police.

In one case knives were thrown at police and a COVID-19 testing station was burned down.

The events resulted in 240 arrests and thousands of fines were handed out for defying the curfew.

Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, condemned what he called the "criminal violence" of the weekend:

"What we saw has nothing to do with fighting for freedom. We didn't take all these measures for fun, we did so because we are fighting against the virus and it's the virus which is actually robbing our freedom."

Schools and non-essential shops in the Netherlands have been shut since mid-December, following the closure of bars and restaurants two months earlier.

Video Transcript

- [SPEAKING NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE]

- Police in the Netherlands arrested at least 70 people on Monday after riots broke out across the country for a third night in a row. In Rotterdam, anti-lockdown demonstrators started fires and clashed with police in protest of a new nighttime curfew. There were similar scenes in Amsterdam, as well as the smaller centers of Haarlem, Geleen, and Den Bosch.

[CHURCH BELLS RINGING]

The 9:00 PM to 4:30 AM curfew came into force on Saturday evening to curb the spread of coronavirus. It's the country's first nationwide curfew since World War II. Many say it's not necessary, as cases of COVID-19 are falling in the Netherlands, with the lowest number of new infections reported on Monday since December 1. But the government is worried about a highly contagious UK variant of the disease spreading.

The unrest started over the weekend, when protesters in several cities looted stores, started fires, and clashed with law enforcement. In one case, knives were thrown at police, and a COVID-19 testing station was burned down. The events resulted in 240 arrests, and thousands of fines were handed out for defying the curfew. Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte condemned what he called the criminal violence of the weekend.

MARK RUTTE: [SPEAKING NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE]

INTERPRETER: What we saw has nothing to do with fighting for freedom. We didn't take all these measures for fun. We did so because we are fighting against the virus, and it's the virus which is actually robbing our freedom.

- Schools and non-essential shops in the Netherlands have been shut since mid-December, following the closure of bars and restaurants two months earlier.