The Dutch government has imposed sweeping new Coronavirus restrictions that will be in place until mid-January, the country’s Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced in a televised address on Monday.
“The Netherlands for five weeks is going into lockdown,” Rutte said, with his announcement coming amid an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases across the country, as only on Sunday, health authorities reported a record of almost 10,000 new Coronavirus cases.
Under the new restrictions, all but non-essential shops closed as of Wednesday, along with schools, museums, gyms and hairdressers, while bars and restaurants were already shut down since October. Day care centers will also close, except for children whose parents work in the so-called “crucial sectors”, such as health care, media and public transport.
New rules also apply to private homes, as people can receive a maximum of two guests per day, except for Christmas, when three adult guests are allowed.
During the first outbreak, the country imposed an “intelligent lockdown” that was followed by a “partial lockdown” in fall, hoping that the second wave of the virus would not hit the country hard.
However, Germany’s move to impose a tough lockdown starting from Wednesday until at least January 10, sparked fears that tourists from the neighbouring country would travel to Dutch cities close to the borders to buy their Christmas presents.
Netherlands’ new restrictions will be in place until January 19 and Rutte is expected to give a press conference a week prior to that date to announce whether the evaluation of their effectiveness allows for their lifting or not.