Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Saturday that indoor meetings in the Netherlands are now limited to a maximum of two guests per house, at least until mid-January. That number has been slightly extended to four guests around Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Non-essential shops, entertainment venues and cultural institutions will also be closed, while schools will remain closed until at least January 9th.
In a televised speech, Rutte told Reuters that “the lock is inevitable as the fifth wave with the Omigron variant is coming towards us.”
Failure to act now could lead to “an unmanageable situation in hospitals,” Rutte added.
The Netherlands is already battling a new wave of Govt-19 cases before the Omigron strain reached its shores last month. Some experts now predict that by the end of this year it will become the dominant variant of the country.
Elsewhere in Europe, despite the release of the vaccine, this year will be similar to Christmas 2020 because Omigron is spreading at an enormous rate in some parts of the continent.
London declares ‘big event’
Elsewhere, the United Kingdom is in the grip of omigran infections, and Health Secretary Sajid Javed told the BBC on Sunday that restrictions could not be lifted before Christmas.
The Omigron variant now accounts for about 60% of Govt-19 cases in the UK, Javed Sky News said Sunday.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Javed said that while many were still unaware of the severity of Omigran, the UK was aware that it was facing a “tsunami of epidemics in the coming days and weeks”.
“Omicron is spreading at an unprecedented rate and doubling every two or three days. Yesterday there were more than 90,000 new cases reported across the UK. Javid wrote Sunday.
His comments come on the heels of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s announcement on Saturday of a “major incident” due to the rapidly rising number of cases in the capital. A “major incident” refers to an event that requires special arrangements between emergency services and local authorities.
Khan told the BBC’s Andrew Mar Show on Sunday that the new Govt-19 restrictions were “inevitable.”
In recent weeks the UK has reintroduced some measures – including wearing masks in most public places and working from home – in an effort to control the epidemic.
But Khan urged the government to go further. “If we do not come up with new regulations, I think sooner or later you will see even more positive developments and public services like the NHS. [the UK health service] On the brink of collapse, otherwise it will collapse, “he said.
And the government’s Scientific Committee for Emergencies (SAGE) warned at a meeting on Thursday that the number of people admitted to Covit-19 hospital could reach 3,000 a day in the UK if corona virus activities were not introduced soon.
Germany on Sunday added the UK to its list of “variants of concern” – meaning only German citizens and residents can enter the country from the UK.
France announced on Friday that major outdoor events and gatherings would be banned on New Year’s Day, warning that the country was facing its fifth wave of infections and that by the beginning of 2022 Omigran would become a dominant variant.
Denmark is proposing to close cinemas and theaters and limit the number of people in stores in the week leading up to Christmas as it seeks to curb the increase in cases.
Rome is one of several Italian cities that decided to cancel New Year’s celebrations due to corona virus concerns, officials said Thursday.
CNN’s Sarah Dean, Martin Goilando, George Engels, Niamh Kennedy, Nadine Schmidt, Talal Mawat and Livia Borghese contributed to the report.