A Belgian protester shakes hands with a police officer during a protest against planned pension reforms in downtown Brussels, Belgium, Nov. 15, 2016. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan) (zw)
(Xinhua/Ye Pingfan) (zw)

dpa/GNA – Police in Brussels detained 488 people at unauthorized protests against Belgium’s coronavirus containment measures on Sunday that were smaller than had been thought possible.

Following numerous calls to protest circulating on social media that led security officers to roll out a huge presence, around 500 people turned up at several locations across the city, local police spokesperson Olivier Slosse told dpa.

“We are shutting down the demonstration outside Central Station,” the capital’s police force tweeted of the largest gathering early in the afternoon. Security officers, some on horseback, clearly outnumbered protesters in videos of the event.

Dangerous items including a catapult, knives, firecrackers and reinforced knuckle gloves were confiscated, according to police.

Belgium had braced for a possible spill-over of protests against coronavirus restrictions after its neighbour, the Netherlands, faced violent protests and rioting in recent weeks.

Earlier in the day, Brussels police warned people planning to attend to stay away from the capital’s landmark Atomium sculpture and Central Station or risk detention.

Belgium has imposed a nightly curfew for weeks to fight the spread of coronavirus infections, but there have not been any large protests against the measures so far.

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