Protests from at least three different countries in Europe grew violent starting Saturday, Nov. 20, as citizens across the continent recoil against more restrictions on movement in the government's effort to curb a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

The Hague in the Netherlands found itself the setting of a violent protest on Saturday as over 40 people were arrested and five police officers were injured during an anti-COVID restrictions protest that railed against new rules imposed that would prevent unvaccinated people from entering some venues, according to al-Jazeera.

The violence also came to the city of Rotterdam, where 51 people were arrested and at least three people were injured as police and riot officers reportedly took shots against the protesters. Fireworks and rocks were aimed at police officers as two closed-door football matches were also disrupted during the protests, CNN reported.

“The riots and extreme violence against police officers, riot police, and firefighters last night in Rotterdam are disgusting to see,” Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said. “Protesting is a great right in our society, but what we saw last night is simply criminal behavior. It has nothing to do with demonstrating.”

Vienna also found over 40,000 of its citizens protesting on the streets, the largest anti-COVID demonstration Austria has seen. Police attempted to de-escalate the situation by not fining people wearing facemasks, but officers had “unidentified liquid” sprayed over them by the demonstrators.

Austria is planning on making vaccinations mandatory by February, and they’ll be instituting a partial lockdown in an effort to lower the rising cases in the country. Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said that the small percentage of violent protestors were attributed to right-wing extremists.

Brussels police officers found themselves in a violent scuffle with 35,000 protestors as water cannons and tear gas were used as a way to calm a crowd that grew angry at the planned restrictions put on unvaccinated people in Belgium on Sunday, according to Forbes.

As vaccinations numbers remain stagnant across Europe, a sudden surge of COVID-19 cases across the continent has the World Health Organization (WHO) worried that an estimated 500,000 people could potentially die by March 2022 if the swell of cases isn’t dampened by protective measures, BBC reported.

“COVID-19 has become once again the number one cause of mortality in our region,” said Dr. Hans Kluge, regional director of WHO.

Protesters take part in a demonstration during the press conference of outgoing Dutch Prime Minister and outgoing Dutch Minister of Health, Welfare, and Sport about the coronavirus measures in The Hague, on Nov. 2, 2021. JEROEN JUMELET/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

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