ANTI-LOCKDOWN protesters have clashed with riot police in Barcelona tonight.
Demonstrators fought pitched battles with cops in the city centre after bars, nightclubs and restaurants were forced to close to stop the spread of coronavirus.
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Baton-wielding cops with riot shields were seen striking masked protesters as the demo against new restrictions to stem the spread of the deadly virus. turned violent.
Cops fired rubber bullets to disperse crowds, who hurled missiles and constructed makeshift barricades from burning bins.
Around 1,500 people had gathered at the Catalan government headquarters in Plaça Sant Jaume.
But clashes erupted within minutes when some protesters removed their masks and shouted: “This is theft! This is a scam!”
Thugs launched bricks and metal fences at cops before angry mobs piled through the narrow streets of Barcelona’s gothic quarter.
Demonstrators set fire to rubbish bins and used them as flaming barricades as lines of riot cops advanced on the crowd.
Police said some protesters were armed with smoke bombs as the famous city centre was turned into a battleground.
Police said two people were arrested.
The demo had been advertised on social media, with some protesters accusing authorities of lying about the seriousness of the Covid-19 outbreaks to justify curbs on personal freedom.
It comes after coronavirus riots rages in Spain and Italy earlier in the week, with hundreds gathering in Barcelona to protest the Spanish and Catalan governments’ latest coronavirus restrictions.
Tonight’s riots were the most violent that Spain has seen so far against pandemic-related restrictions.
It followed similar unrest in France, Italy and other European countries.
This week, Spain extended its state of emergency to six months,with cases surging to 1.16 million as the second wave rages.
There were 239 new deaths today, bringing Spain’s overall death toll to 35,878.
Most Spaniards have been hit with travel bans, curfews and caps on social gatherings.
The new nationwide state of emergency is the second this year and is expected to last until May next year.
All 19 of Spain’s autonomous cities and regions have been imposing different sets of restrictions.
Some of the toughest have been introduced in Catalonia, which includes Barcelona.
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Officials have closed down the hospitality industry, imposed a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, and banned all but essential weekend travel in and out of local areas.
Health Ministry data showed 25,595 new coronavirus infections confirmed on Friday, a new record.
The government admitted last week that the real tally could be well over three million infections.