Netherlands to enter 4-week lockdown from Sunday: Sources
This story will be updated.
The Netherlands will enter a strict lockdown starting at 5 a.m. on Sunday, sources told NOS, RTL Nieuws and ANP. The lockdown will be announced during a press conference on Saturday night, and it will last at least until January 14. There will not likely be a curfew, like at the beginning of this year.
The Cabinet made the decision to adopt the Outbreak Management Team’s advice on Saturday afternoon to try to prevent a spike in coronavirus infections caused by the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The OMT had suggested an almost complete lockdown affecting all sectors except for essential stores, such as supermarkets and pharmacies. The closure will affect all hospitality businesses, non-essential shops, museums, amusement parks, cinemas, theaters, gyms, and close contact professions with no medical purpose, RTL Nieuws reported.
Secondary schools and academic institutions will also be forced to close. Primary schools and after-school care centers were already ordered to close on December 17. They will not likely reopen until Monday, January 17.
In addition to the lockdown, group sizes outside of the home will be limited to a maximum of two people from different households. Residents will be strongly advised to allow no more than two household visitors per day. There will be an exception for the two-day Christmas holiday when four household visitors will be allowed. There will be no exception for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.
The Cabinet met on Saturday for an emergency consultation after the OMT issued advice about how to handle the Omicron variant. Sources called that advice "alarming.” By implementing measures now, the government wants to gain more time for the Covid-19 booster vaccine campaign. They fear that not all vaccine recipients are still well-protected against the Omicron variant months after their first injections were administered.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge, and RIVM director Jaap van Dissel will explain the decision at the press conference, which is set to start at 7 p.m.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.