The Hague | On Saturday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that the Netherlands will be placed in “confinement” on Sunday, in the period of the Christmas holidays, in an attempt to stop the fifth wave of Covid-19 and the strong progress of the Omicron variable.
“I am here tonight in a dark mood. To sum it up in one sentence, the Netherlands will return to containment from tomorrow,” Rutte said during a televised press conference.
“It is inevitable with the fifth wave and with Omicron spreading faster than we feared. We must intervene now as a precaution,” the Prime Minister continued.
Mr Ruti said all non-essential shops, restaurants, bars, cinemas, museums and theaters should close from Sunday to January 14, while schools should close until at least January 9.
At the same time, the number of guests that people are allowed to have in their homes has decreased to two, except for Christmas, as well as the day before and the day after this day from December 25, and in the New Year period, when it is four.
“Another Christmas completely different from what we would like” is looming, the head of government admitted.
But he insisted, “Omicron is forcing us to limit the number of our connections as quickly and as much as possible, which is why the Netherlands will be restricted,” he said.
Meanwhile, the head of the Dutch epidemic management team, Jaap van Diesel, said during the same press conference that Omicron will overtake the Delta variant to become dominant in the Netherlands by the end of the year.
The prime minister’s announcement comes after an emergency cabinet meeting and after four days of additional restrictions imposed by the authorities, including a week-long Christmas break in primary schools.
Even before this “confinement”, long queues appeared in front of shops during the day on Saturday. Many Dutch people were doing their Christmas shopping, after information had already started to circulate about the new restrictions, such as Ayman Masori, 19, who told AFP in The Hague that he wanted to “collect gifts”.
Health restrictions imposed by the Dutch government are becoming increasingly unpopular, with riots erupting in cities such as Rotterdam and The Hague for several nights in November.
Approximately 86% of adults in the Netherlands are vaccinated.
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