Anti-lockdown protesters march through Dutch city of Utrecht

Thousands of people have marched peacefully through the Dutch city of Utrecht to protest the government’s coronavirus lockdown measures

Holding balloons, umbrellas and banners, including ones that said: “It's not right,” protesters watched by a large police presence moved from a park into the city center without incident.

Siebke Koopman said he was demonstrating against more than just the Dutch government's COVID-19 restrictions.

The Dutch government imposed a partial lockdown three weeks ago and tightened it more a week ago as COVID-19 infections remained the highest they have been since the start of the pandemic. Among the measures, all bars, restaurants and other public venues including stores selling nonessential goods have to close at 5 p.m.

Dutch infection rates this week began to ease slightly but remain close to record highs.

A demonstration in the port city of Rotterdam shortly after the partial lockdown was announced last month degenerated into street violence so intense that police officers opened fire on rioters.

More than 600 passengers arrived from South Africa on Nov. 26, the day the Dutch government imposed a ban on flights from southern Africa amid concerns about omicron.

Travelers who had the new variant had either mild symptoms or no symptoms.

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Associated Press writer Mike Corder contributed from The Hague.

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Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic