The Netherlands is about to go for a tough Christmas lockout

The Hague, Dec 18 (Reuters) – The Netherlands will go into a tough lockout at Christmas and New Year, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Saturday as he tries to control the highly contagious Omigron corona virus variant.

All non-essential shops and services, including restaurants, hairdressers, museums and gyms, will be closed from Sunday to January 14th. All schools will be closed until at least January 9th.

“The Netherlands is closing again. It’s inevitable that a fifth wave will come towards us with the Omigron variant,” Rutte told a television news conference.

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Other activities include a recommendation that families should not have more than two visitors and that gathering outside should be limited to a maximum of two people.

Failure to do so now could lead to an “unmanageable situation in hospitals,” which has already reduced regular attention to creating space for COVID-19 patients, Rutte said.

On December 18, 2021, in the city center of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, people do their Christmas shopping ahead of the Dutch government’s announcement of a “strict” Christmas lockdown to prevent the spread of the Omicron corona virus variant. REUTERS / Piroschka van de Wouw

Since the introduction of night-time locking late last month, infections in the Netherlands have dropped to record levels in recent weeks. The Omigron variant came as the country was already struggling with waves of corona virus infections.

Cases of variance have been on the rise since it was first detected in the Netherlands three weeks ago, while hospitals are struggling with the high number of COVID-19 patients in their wards, which are nearing the highest level this year.

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Omicron is expected to become the most dominant variant of the virus in the Netherlands between Christmas and New Year, said leading Dutch epidemiologist Jab van Diesel.

Although more than 85% of Dutch adults are vaccinated, less than 9% of adults receive a booster shot, one of the lowest rates in Europe.

On Saturday, the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) reported a total of more than 2.9 million COVID-19 cases since the outbreak, with 20,420 deaths reported. In 24 hours, 14,616 new infections were reported.

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Report by Stephanie van den Berg and Bart Meijer; Editing Anthony Deutsch by Mark Potter, Catherine Evans and Frances Kerry

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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