Belgium police clash with partiers amid virus restrictions

Belgian police have clashed with a large crowd in one of Brussels’ biggest parks

Brussels police told The Associated Press that four people were arrested and three police officers were injured. Clashes started after police ordered the crowd to disperse toward the end of the afternoon. An AP reporter saw people throwing bottles and other projectiles at police, who used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

The festival, dubbed “La Boum” (“the party”), had been advertised on social media and police had warned it was a fake event on April Fool’s Day. According to Brussels police, up to 2,000 people still showed up in the Bois de la Cambre to attend.

Large crowds have been gathering in Brussels parks this week to enjoy the unusually sunny, warm weather, despite coronavirus restrictions limiting outside gatherings to four people. Brussels prosecutor’s office had said police would be deployed at the festival and that anyone breaching restrictions could be prosecuted.

Another event has been advertised for Friday in another Brussels park, promoted by a group called the Abyss. The group said it does not question the government’s strategy but fights for citizens’ rights to gather outdoors.

Belgium’s current virus restrictions include a night-time curfew and a ban on nonessential international travel.

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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