Anti-lockdown riot erupts in Belgium as protests sweep Europe amid Covid Xmas fears

 Anti-lockdown riot erupts in Belgium as protests sweep Europe amid Covid Xmas fears – with 2.5million cases in one week

Six people were hospitalised including two police officers while 20 were arrested after protests broke out in Brussels.

Cops in Brussels used water cannons and tear gas as 8,000 people descended on the capital in protest at new restrictions introduced on Friday.

Crowds were heard chanting "Freedom! Freedom!" and held placards which read "everyday fascism" emblazoned with yellow stars as they marched towards to EU's headquarters.

The demonstration turned violent when 100 rioters threw rubbish and other objects, including a bicycle, beer cans, and fire crackers, at police.

The intense public backlash comes after the government tightened restrictions for a third week in a row - forcing kids as young as six to wear face masks and ordering schools to shut a week early.

Belgium - with a population of 11 million - registered a weekly average of 17,862 new daily cases this week: a six per cent rise from last week, with hospital admissions also up four per cent.

Some 800 people are in hospital with severe forms of Covid while 44 people have died in the past seven days.

Protests have also kicked off across European capitals this weekend as the virus returns with a vengeance ahead of Christmas.

More than 2.5million cases have been recorded in the past week alone across Europe - with major surges in France, The Netherlands, Italy, Austria and Germany.

New restrictions are being rolled out across the continent with measures such as heavy fines, mandatory vaccinations and full lockdowns for the unvaccinated.

And it comes as the new Omicron variant looms over the continent, despite WHO saying as of yet no one has died from the "super mutant" strain.

Governments are scrambling to try and control the Covid winter surge which appears to be have dealt a hammer blow to hopes of a normal Christmas.

Pictures from the last few days show large anti-lockdown marches in Austria, Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Austrian authorities have imposed lockdown on the unvaccinated and warned anyone who refuses to comply with jab status checks could be fined over £1,000.

Thousands marched through Vienna against the new measures designed to save lives and protect hospitals from being overwhelmed.

Austria was the first domino to fall in imposing new measures in Europe as it saw record case loads at the end of November of over 15,000 each day.

Figures have now dropped to around 7,000 amid the new restrictions.

And meanwhile in Dutch town of Utrecht there was another several thousand strong march to rage against new restrictions.

It is the first major march in the Netherlands against the measures which include new closures of restaurants and bars.

Protests also erupted in Barcelona, Spain, as marchers spoke out against new Covid certificates required to enter bars, restaurants, gyms and care homes.

Germany also saw protests of people waving "we the people" banners in Frankfurt over their new restrictions - a crackdown on the unvaccinated.

And then in Italy, protesters hit the streets in Turin to speak out against the country's new coronavirus health pass.

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