Dutch Prime Minister declares Western Europe’s first partial Covid lockdown

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has announced Western Europe’s first partial Covid lockdown of the winter, with three weeks of restrictions for shops, sport and catering.

He said that the annoying, drastic move was in response to record infections and rising intensive care cases.

Police have fired water cannon against hundreds of protesters in The Hague.

Much of Europe is facing a surge in cases, blamed partly on low vaccine take-up in several countries.

Restrictions would be imposed first in the two provinces of Upper Austria and Salzburg from Monday, according to Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein.

Denmark, which had downgraded coronavirus as no longer a “socially critical” disease, has re-instated a Covid pass that was phased out in September. The government wants to push through a law allowing workplaces to require the pass for staff.

The Dutch prime minister said that fortunately the vast majority of people in the Netherlands had been vaccinated. But he said the three-week partial lockdown would start on Saturday evening:

  • Non-essential shops will have to shut at 18:00 (17:00 GMT) and supermarkets, cafes, restaurants and hotels at 20:00
  • Professional and amateur sport will continue, but behind closed doors
  • That includes the Netherlands’ football World Cup qualifier against Norway on 16 November
  • The 18:00 closure applies to casinos and saunas as well as hairdressers and sex workers
  • A maximum of four guests aged over 13 will be allowed at people’s homes
  • As many people should work from home as possible

Cinemas and theatres will stay open. Social distancing of 1.5m (5ft) is being reintroduced where Covid passes are not in operation. The caretaker cabinet is also working on a change in the law to allow businesses to choose whether they want to limit entry to people who have been vaccinated or who have recovered.

The catering industry has reacted angrily to the news; a spokesman told public broadcaster NOS the government had “crossed a line”. Last weekend, thousands of protesters marched through The Hague in anger at existing Covid restrictions.

Latest daily figures on Friday showed 16,287 new Covid cases, just short of Thursday’s record but up a third on the previous week. Dutch vaccination rates are relatively high, with 82.4% of over-12s having two doses, that’s 73% of the total population.

The Dutch prime minister said that fortunately the vast majority of people in the Netherlands had been vaccinated. But he said the three-week partial lockdown would start on Saturday evening:

  • Non-essential shops will have to shut at 18:00 (17:00 GMT) and supermarkets, cafes, restaurants and hotels at 20:00
  • Professional and amateur sport will continue, but behind closed doors
  • That includes the Netherlands’ football World Cup qualifier against Norway on 16 November
  • The 18:00 closure applies to casinos and saunas as well as hairdressers and sex workers
  • A maximum of four guests aged over 13 will be allowed at people’s homes
  • As many people should work from home as possible

Cinemas and theatres will stay open. Social distancing of 1.5m (5ft) is being reintroduced where Covid passes are not in operation. The caretaker cabinet is also working on a change in the law to allow businesses to choose whether they want to limit entry to people who have been vaccinated or who have recovered.

The catering industry has reacted angrily to the news; a spokesman told public broadcaster NOS the government had “crossed a line”. Last weekend, thousands of protesters marched through The Hague in anger at existing Covid restrictions.

Latest daily figures on Friday showed 16,287 new Covid cases, just short of Thursday’s record but up a third on the previous week. Dutch vaccination rates are relatively high, with 82.4% of over-12s having two doses, that’s 73% of the total population. (Courtesy BBC)

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