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Hundreds march against COVID-19 restrictions in Belgium

BRUSSELS – Hundreds of people marched through central Brussels on Sunday to protest tightened COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the Belgian government to counter the latest spike in coronavirus cases.

Marchers came to protest the measures that were announced Friday, the third week in a row that the government has tightened its rules as the latest surge in cases strains the country’s health services, depriving people with other life-threatening diseases like cancer of treatment.

Shouting “Freedom! Freedom!” and carrying banners that said, “United for our freedom, rights and our children,” people marched to the European Union headquarters. Some also carried signs critical of vaccines and against making the coronavirus shots mandatary.

On Friday, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced that kindergartens and primary schools will close for the holiday season a week early, and children must now wear masks from the age of 6. Indoor events will only be allowed with a maximum of 200 people.

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Previously, the government closed nightclubs, and ordered bars and restaurants to shut at 11 p.m. for three weeks. Speculation had been rife that closing times would be brought forward to 8 p.m. but the cabinet decided against it, for now.

According to the latest coronavirus figures, the nation of 11 million appears to have reached a plateau.

On a weekly average, 17,862 new daily cases were reported, a rise of 6% over the previous week. Hospital admissions rose 4%. More than 3,700 people are in hospital with the virus, 821 of them in intensive care. More than 27,000 people have died since the outbreak began last year.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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