The Netherlands on Sunday become the first EU country to re-impose stringent holiday restrictions in response to surging Omicron cases as it entered a month-long nationwide lockdown
On Saturday, the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte announced that restaurants, bars, non-essential shops, beauty salons, and concert venues and cinemas would all close from Sunday.
Most indoor sports facilities will close, and supermarkets and chemists remain open on restricted hours. Schools and colleges will also close until January 9. Funerals are restricted to 100 attendees or fewer.
According to the prime minister, the lockdown was “unavoidable” and is expected to last until at least January 22.
“I can now hear the whole of the Netherlands sighing. This is exactly one week before Christmas, another Christmas that is completely different from what we would like,” Rutte said on Saturday, according to the BBC.
The Dutch, during the early stages of the pandemic imposed an “intelligent lockdown” that focused on shielding high-risk people while aiming for population immunity.
In the UK, where Omicron cases are also surging, nearly half of the population over the age of 12 has received a booster dose. However, the Netherlands has been slower than other European nations to get its booster program going. While 85% of its population is vaccinated, 9% have received a booster shot.
The Netherlands has more than 2.9 million Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 20,420 reported deaths, The Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health stated on Saturday.
According to Reuters, there were 14,616 confirmed cases reported in 24 hours, down from a peak of around 23,000 in late November. Omicron will likely become the dominant coronavirus variant in the Netherlands in December and January, Dutch infectious disease expert Jaap van Dissel said.
Austria locked down in November, but has lifted most restrictions for vaccinated people. On Friday, its health ministry stated that travellers to the country must provide a negative Covid-19 test from December 20, if they haven’t had a booster shot.
Source: Business Insider