Dutch evening lockdown will likely be extended into 2022: Report
The current slate of coronavirus restrictions will be extended at least until January 1, sources close to the Cabinet told NOS. The restrictions were initially to be reevaluated this Tuesday, with the expectation they would last through December 18. No decision has been made about the possibility of extending school winter vacations, with school breaks set to start on December 24.
The decision to extend the evening lockdown was based on advice from the Outbreak Management Team, which was discussed by several Cabinet members on Sunday afternoon. The full Cabinet will consult on the issue before a final decision is made. The extension of the policy is expected to be announced by Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge during a press conference on Tuesday.
People in the Netherlands will have to continue coping with the early closure of their favorite bars and restaurants through the busy winter holiday period if the lockdown is extended. The entire hospitality industry currently has to close nightly at 5 p.m. The same rules apply for nearly every business, arts, and cultural location in the country.
Additionally, there will be no change to the maximum number of household guests allowed per day, even on Christmas, Boxing Day, and perhaps also New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The government has issued an “urgent” piece of advice that no more than four guests over the age of 12 are allowed into a household per day. There are no limits to the number of visitors below that age.
The only exemptions to date are for essential stores, like supermarkets and drugstores, which can close at 8 p.m. Essential services, like notaries, attorneys, medical professionals, and mortgage advisors can maintain their normal business hours.
Those restrictions were first put into place 14 days ago, amid calls for stronger restrictions as the country grappled with an average of 22,500 coronavirus infections per day. That figure has dropped off by about 18 percent since then, but the Omicron variant is starting to spread in the country with officials uncertain how it will affect the number of infections moving forward.
An average of 269 people with Covid-19 were hospitalized daily when the evening lockdown started on November 28. That rose to a peak of 360 at the start of December, and has since tapered off to 318 per day during the current calendar week.
Intensive care units were treating 551 Covid-19 patients on November 28, but 662 on Sunday including 20 in German hospitals. The number of patients in regular care was more stable, rising from 2,091 to 2,120.