A convoy of vehicles from across the Netherlands brought The Hague’s city centre to a standstill on Saturday, protesting against coronavirus restrictions.
Inspired by Canadian truckers who congested the capital Ottawa, several hundred vehicles blocked access to the Binnehof, seat of the Dutch government, according to an estimate by public television.
The protesters started to arrive in the early morning in trucks, cars, tractors and even caravans, and many seemed determined to stay on even after a police warning on Twitter to move by 3:30 pm (1430 GMT).
The convoy will “continue to roll until fundamental and long-lasting change is enacted”, the organisers said in a statement, demanding the end to all Covid restrictions across the country.
“For the moment we’re staying put and we’ll see what happens,” Rutger van Lier, a 46-year-old entrepreneur taking part in the protest, told AFP.
He said the protest was “of course inspired by Canada.”
“There too, people are very unhappy with public policy,” he said.
Several other protesters said, however, they would drive on to the Belgian capital Brussels, or even to Paris, where French police have clamped down on a similar convoy, issuing hundreds of fines, and on Saturday fired teargas.
The Canada-style convoy is just the latest demonstration against the government’s anti-Covid restrictions in the Netherlands.
Anger spilled over into violence in January last year and again in November when riots erupted in cities including The Hague and Rotterdam.