Three Police Injured, 4 People Arrested in Belgium as Thousands Gather Despite COVID Restrictions

Four people were arrested and three police officers injured after a large crowd clashed with Belgian police Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

A festival titled La Boum ("The Party") had been advertised on social media. Police had warned it was a fake event set for April Fools' Day, but Brussels police told the AP that up to 2,000 people still showed up in Bois de la Cambre, one of Brussels' largest parks.

Clashes broke out shortly after police ordered the crowd to disperse. An AP reporter saw people throwing bottles and other projectiles at police. The police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Coronavirus restrictions in Brussels limit outside gatherings to four people, but large crowds have been gathering in Brussels' parks this week in spite of those restrictions. The Brussels prosecutor's office had said police would be deployed at the festival and that anyone caught violating the restrictions could be prosecuted.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

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 has reported over 882,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 23,000 virus-related deaths. Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have risen in recent weeks, and health authorities have warned that intensive care units could reach a critical level by April 10 if the pace of new infections and hospitalizations does not slow down.

Belgium's current virus restrictions include a nighttime curfew and a ban on nonessential international travel.

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Protesters at the Bois de La Cambre in Brussels on Thursday. Reportedly up to 2,000 people came for the fake festival La Boum ("The Party"), but because coronavirus restrictions were not complied with, police evacuated the park. Photo by HATIM KAGHAT/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images