Sources: Primary schools will close from Friday; Lockdown extended one month
The evening lockdown will be extended until January 14, and primary schools will go on Christmas vacation a few days earlier. According to insiders, these measures will be announced by the caretaker Cabinet on Tuesday evening at the coronavirus press conference.
Sources told NOS that the Christmas vacation would start on Friday. After-school care will also close, but daycare will remain open, according to NU.nl. The original plan was to start the Christmas vacation on Friday, December 24.
Primary schools will be allowed to keep their doors open this coming Monday for those parents who still need more time to arrange childcare. Additionally, primary schools that can still organize online education will be able to continue teaching next week, sources told RTL Nieuws.
The Outbreak Management Team advised the Cabinet to close primary schools a few days earlier to curb the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The Cabinet decided to follow that advice, according to NOS' sources.
After repeatedly stressing that the Cabinet is committed to keeping schools open, Minister Arie Slob for Primary and Secondary education said on Tuesday that the involved Ministers are faced with a set of "very tough" decisions. The Cabinet must now "look again at what is necessary," he said.
A significant concern is that kids would pick up the coronavirus at school and spread it to family members during Christmas celebrations. By closing schools a week earlier, kids will have less contact with each other before the holidays, and the risk of infection is smaller.
The Cabinet will also prop up the cultural sector with another 85 million euro support package, as the industry is still reeling under the burden caused by coronavirus restrictions.
The current restrictions include catering establishments and non-essential stores being closed from 5:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. daily. Only drug stores and supermarkets can remain open until 8:00 p.m. Netherlands residents are also urged not to receive more than four visitors per day. However, some sources reported that this limit would be increased to eight visitors per day over the Christmas holidays.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times