The Netherlands starts its partial lockdown to stop second Covid wave
The Netherlands is now officially in a partial lockdown, a blunt attempt by the government to reduce the number of coronavirus infections in the country. That means staying home as much as possible and a four-week closure of all restaurants and bars to their sit-in customers. Those caught not adhering to social distancing rules will be fined 95 euros.
The package of new measures announced on Tuesday evening are meant to be the hammer blow that flattens the curve of infections. "The hammer must be big enough to knock the virus down," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in the press conference on Tuesday.
The full list of new restrictions means that residents of the Netherlands are not allowed to have more than three guests at their home per day, and when gathering outside, groups may consist of no more than four people from mixed households. Restaurants and other catering establishments will be closed for everything except takeaways.
Face masks are to be worn in public indoor spaces, including on public transport, by everyone over the age of 12. This also includes high schools, vocational schools, universities and colleges. This will be mandatory as soon as the government gets its coronavirus law implemented. Until then, it is considered "urgent advice," Rutte said.
"It is up to us all. Don't be the stubborn person who pushes the boundaries of the rules," Rutte said.
Netherlands residents are also urged to work from home, "unless there is no other option", and to travel as little as possible. Sports participation is only permitted at a distance of 1.5 meters, and in groups of four people or fewer. Competitions are forbidden, and sports canteens, showers and changing rooms are closed.
The basic rules of keeping 1.5 meters apart, avoiding crowds, and regularly washing your hands for 20 seconds remain in place. Those caught violating these rules will be fined 95 euros.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge acknowledged that these restrictions will be hard, but he believes the Netherlands can do this. "We got the virus down in the spring. Now, in the autumn, we have to do the same. We know that it is not always easy, but also that we can do it," De Jonge affirmed. "The fastest way to get rid of measures is when we just stick to them."