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AMSTERDAM: Riot police with batons and shields tried to break up a crowd of several thousand who had gathered in the Dutch capital on Sunday to protest against COVID-19 lockdown measures and vaccinations.

Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema issued an emergency ordinance, empowering police to clear the central Museum Square, after the protesters violated a ban on holding public gatherings during the latest wave of coronavirus infections.

The protesters, who mostly did not wear masks and broke social distancing rules, also ignored an order not to hold a march and walked along a main thoroughfare, playing music and holding yellow umbrellas in a sign of opposition to the government measures.

The Netherlands went into a sudden lockdown on Dec. 19, with the government ordering the closure of all but essential stores, as well as restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums and other public places until at least Jan. 14.

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