Netherlands to Enter Strict Lockdown Days Ahead of Christmas

·2-min read

Here we go again.

Europe has marked its strictest lockdown yet over the Omicron variant, with the Netherlands announcing a Christmas lockdown that will run through to at least mid-January. Non-essential shops, schools, bars, restaurants and other public venues, including cinemas, will be closed under the new rules.

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The Dutch restrictions come into effect on Sunday, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte calling the lockdown “unavoidable” in order to contain the spread of the new variant.

“I stand here with a gloomy mind, and a lot of people watching will feel that way too,” said Rutte in a press conference on Saturday. “The Netherlands is again shutting down.”

The lockdown comes weeks after Dutch authorities introduced a partial lockdown on Nov. 28. Those rules restricted social gatherings to 13 people and imposed a 5 p.m. curfew on bars, cinemas, restaurants and sports venues. Essential shops had to close by 8 p.m. Dutch documentary festival IDFA, which wrapped on Nov. 28, narrowly missed the lockdown restrictions.

Around 85.8% of adults aged 18 and over have been fully vaccinated in the Netherlands. The country has dealt with 2.95 million cases of COVID and 20,370 deaths since the pandemic began.

The Netherlands won’t be the only country to enter lockdown around the holidays. Omicron has posed a serious threat in Europe, where countries such as the U.K. — the hardest hit in Western Europe so far, with 25,000 confirmed cases on Saturday — are closely monitoring the spread of the virus. France and Germany have also imposed tougher restrictions, with the former going so far as to close its borders to business and leisure travellers from the U.K. on Friday night.

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