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Seven people have been arrested after rioters clashed with police in The Hague for a second night of violence in the Netherlands, sparked by protests over new COVID-19 restrictions.

The unrest came a day after police opened fire on protesters in Rotterdam amid what the port city’s mayor called “an orgy of violence”, leaving three people seriously injured after police opened fire.

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Clashes in Rotterdam on Friday night over COVID rules

In The Hague on Saturday night, youths set fires in the streets and threw fireworks at officers.

Elsewhere in the Netherlands, two soccer matches in the top professional league had to be briefly halted after fans – banned from matches under a partial lockdown in force in the country for a week – broke into stadiums in the towns of Alkmaar and Almelo.

There was a heavy police presence in several other major towns after social media calls to riot followed the Rotterdam clashes, but any further violence was largely contained, Dutch media reported.

Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that five police officers were injured and dozens of people were arrested across the Netherlands on Saturday evening.

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Thousands protest new lockdown in Austria

The unrest is the latest of several demonstrations taking place on the streets of several European cities, in protest against new lockdown measures.

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Tens of thousands voiced their anger in the Austrian capital after the government announced a nationwide lockdown and said coronavirus vaccinations would become mandatory by law next year, blaming the country’s high infection numbers on those who have failed to take up the jab.

The nationwide lockdown will start on Monday and will initially last for 10 days, before being re-assessed, and will last a maximum of 20 days.

Demonstrators light flares during a demonstration against COVID lockdown measures in Vienna, Austria. Pic: AP
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Demonstrators light flares during a demonstration against COVID lockdown measures in Vienna, Austria. Pic: AP

Most shops will close and cultural events will be cancelled. People will only be able to leave their homes for certain reasons, including food shopping, going to the doctor, or doing exercise.

Austria’s infection rate is among the highest in the continent, with a seven-day incidence of 971.5 per 100,000 people – and daily cases keep setting records.

Around 65% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, one of the lowest rates in western Europe. In the UK it is about 68%.

Protest against COVID-19 measures in Amsterdam
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There was also a protest against COVID-19 measures in Amsterdam on Saturday
Police officers stand guard as demonstrators gather in the Austrian capital
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Police officers stand guard as demonstrators gathered in the Austrian capital

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg has apologised to all vaccinated people, saying it was not fair they had to suffer under the renewed lockdown restrictions when they had done everything to help contain the virus.

“I’m sorry to take this drastic step,” he said on public broadcaster ORF.

While Austria so far stands alone in the EU in making vaccinations mandatory, more and more governments are clamping down.

From Monday, Slovakia, where just 45.3% of the 5.5 million population is fully vaccinated, is banning people who have not been from all non-essential stores and shopping centres.

They will also not be allowed to attend public events or gatherings and will be required to test twice a week just to go to work.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said: “It is really, absolutely, time to take action.”

A man is detained in Vienna
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A protester is detained by police in Vienna

With a vaccination rate of 67.5%, her nation is now considering mandatory vaccinations for many health professionals.

Greece is also targeting the unvaccinated. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has announced new restrictions for the unjabbed, including stopping them entering venues such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, museums, and gyms, even if they have tested negative.

Demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions have also taken place in Switzerland, Croatia, Italy, and Belfast.

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In Belfast city centre, hundreds gathered to reject the planned introduction of coronavirus certification for nightclubs, bars, restaurants and a range of other settings from 13 December.

And in central Hull, around 200 anti-vaxxers marched through the streets, demanding that carers looking after the elderly and vulnerable should not be forced to have the jab.

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Schools Bill axed in current form, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan confirms

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Schools Bill axed in current form, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan confirms

A bill through which the government promised to “raise education standards across the country” through a range of measures has been axed in its current form, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has confirmed.

In her first appearance in front of the Educations Committee in her new role as secretary of state, Ms Keegan told MPs that the Schools Bill will not progress to its third reading.

It is the government’s third policy reversal this week.

The government had previously said the bill, which was launched back in May, would “underpin the government’s ambition for every child to receive a world-class education, no matter where in the country they live”.

The legislation contained proposals to support schools to join strong, multi-academy trusts, introduce registers for children not in school and to give Ofsted more powers to crack down on unregistered schools operating illegally.

Politics hub: Health secretary says ‘my door is open’ as ambulance strike looms

Ministers had said the bill “delivers the primary legislation needed to strengthen the school system, as well as essential measures to keep children safe”.

Ms Keegan told MPs: “I can confirm that the Schools Bill will not progress in the third session [of Parliament],” Ms Keegan tells MPs.

“There’s been a lot of things we’ve had to focus on.

“However we do remain committed to the very many important objectives of the bill, and we will be prioritising some aspects of the bill as well to see what we can do.”

The bill has not progressed any further since September, when peers in the House of Lords removed key clauses that would have given the Department of Education significant powers over how academies operate.

Ms Keegan said that a register of children not in school is still “definitely a priority” for the government.

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Schools may get Strep A antiobiotics

The government had proposed the creation of local authority-administered registers for children not in school which, it said, would allow the government to support local authorities to make sure they know where every child is being educated, that it is of the right quality, and that support is offered to home educating families.

The bill also committed to moving to a direct National Funding Formula which would make sure every school received funding on the same basis, wherever it is in the country.

Read more:
Children struggling with talking after pandemic
Girls routinely get better grades than boys in class – why?
Schools that ban afros and cornrows ‘may be breaking the law’

Elsewhere in the committee hearing, Ms Keegan suggested some institutions have “lost their way” on debating “difficult issues”.

Asked how the Department for Education (DfE) plans to enforce political impartiality in schools, she said she believes the “vast majority” of teachers take that responsibility “extremely carefully”.

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Ambulances will go to ‘life-threatening’ calls during strikes but may not attend falls, Health Secretary Steve Barclay says

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Ambulances will go to 'life-threatening' calls during strikes but may not attend falls, Health Secretary Steve Barclay says

Ambulances will be dispatched to “life-threatening” Category 1 calls during the two days of industrial action this month but may not attend if an elderly person has a fall, Health Secretary Steve Barclay has suggested.

Asked whether an elderly individual who has had a fall will receive help on two strike dates – 21 and 28 December – Mr Barclay told Sky News the government is discussing what will be covered with the trade unions.

“They have said that they will cover life-threatening conditions.

“So there’s four categories of call: Life-threatening, which is Category 1, emergency, which is Category 2. Those tend to be things like heart attacks and strokes. So your case would often be classed as a Category 3 or Category 4.

“At the moment, the trade unions are saying those things wouldn’t be covered.”

Health secretary says ‘my door is open’ as ambulance strike looms – politics latest

Pressed on whether an ambulance would arrive if somebody has had a suspected heart attack, he added: “Well, the indication from the trade unions is that it would.”

Asked about possible strokes, Mr Barclay replied: “Well we are having those discussions. Obviously the trade unions said to us they didn’t want to get into the details of exactly what derogations, what things would be covered and what would not until they announced the date of the strike.

“Now they have done that, there are discussions that will take place tomorrow in terms of what exactly will be covered by that.”

Share your story about the NHS as it faces acute pressure this winter

More than 10,000 ambulance workers across nine trusts in England and Wales will strike on 21 and 28 December as part of coordinated industrial action by the GMB, Unison and Unite unions in a row over pay.

Ambulance workers from the GMB union, including paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff, will strike at the following trusts:

• South West Ambulance Service
• South East Coast Ambulance Service
• North West Ambulance Service
• South Central Ambulance Service
• North East Ambulance Service
• East Midlands Ambulance Service
• West Midlands Ambulance Service
• Welsh Ambulance Service
• Yorkshire Ambulance Service

Unite said more than 1,600 of its members at the West Midlands, North West and North East ambulance service trusts would also join the walkout on 21 December.

Ambulance workers who are members of Unison will join the strike at five services in England: London, Yorkshire, the North West, North East and South West.

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Ambulance staff to strike in December

The strikes will go ahead after the Royal College of Nursing staged their second walkout, which was also over pay.

Last week, workers across the ambulance services and some NHS trusts voted to take industrial action over the government’s 4% pay award, which the GMB union has described as another “massive real-terms pay cut”.

The government says it cannot afford such demands, and increasing wages higher than inflation will push prices up higher.

The union said on Tuesday that its representatives will now meet with individual trusts to discuss requirements for “life and limb cover” on the two confirmed dates.

Read more:
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Military could be deployed to help limit Christmas strike disruption

Rachel Harrison, GMB national secretary, said: “The government could stop this strike in a heartbeat – but they need to wake up and start negotiating on pay.”

Unite called the action a “stark warning” to the government, which it urged to stem the “crisis” engulfing the NHS.

The union said it would maintain essential emergency cover for patients.

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Abolishing House of Lords would spark ‘fundamental challenges’, Speaker warns

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Abolishing House of Lords would spark 'fundamental challenges', Speaker warns

The Speaker of the Lords is set to condemn Labour’s plans to abolish the second chamber, claiming changing it to a fully elected House would “present fundamental challenges”.

Sir Keir Starmer announced the plan on Monday – alongside former prime minister Gordon Brown – as the pair insisted a new Labour government would ensure “the biggest transfer of power out of Westminster and Whitehall [that] our country has seen”.

But while Lord McFall – once a Labour MP himself – agrees with the need to reform the red benches, he will criticise the direction the party is taking.

He fears it could “threaten both the balance of our constitution and our capability across parliament to deliver good and effective legislation”.

Giving a lecture to the Hansard Society in Westminster later today, he is expected to say: “The House of Lords needs to keep up with the times.

“If it doesn’t, it will decline, and that’s bad for our politics and our democracy.”

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‘We want to abolish the House of Lords’

Lord McFall will recommend making the chamber “smaller, more inclusive and more representative of all parts of the United Kingdom”.

More on Labour

But he will warn about the need for buy-in to the plans from across the political spectrum, saying “previous failed attempts at far-reaching change illustrate that without agreement across parties even the most worthy proposals could be found wanting”.

The Speaker will also say the electorate “makes their decisions based upon the issues that matter to them” rather than constitutional reform, adding: “While I think that the future of the House of Lords is important, I am not certain it ranks above topics such as health, education and the economy for most voters.”

Sky News contacted Labour for a response, but the party declined to comment.

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