The Christmas lockdown across the Netherlands has begun today, in an attempt to minimise the spread of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the wave of new restrictions yesterday, which will remain in effect until at least January 14th.
Rutte said all non-essential shops, restaurants, bars, cinemas, theatres and museums will close until January 14th. Schools will also close until at least January 9th.
The number of people permitted to congregate in people’s houses is also being cut from four to two, with the exception of Christmas Day.
The head of the Dutch outbreak management team Jaap van Dissel warned that if Omicron’s effect is as severe as Delta’s, hospitalisations could exceed those during the first wave of the pandemic.
He said the Omicron variant will soon overtake the Delta variant in the Netherlands.
“We know that the variant can outflank built-up defences from previous infections or previous vaccinations, especially if that was some time ago,” he said.
Rutte’a announcement came just four days after the Government extended its previous restrictions and announced that school holidays will begin earlier.
The restrictions have led to a 21% decline in infections in the week from December 7-14th.
They further reported a slight decline in Covid-19 hospitalisations.
Approximately 86% of all adults in the Netherlands have been fully vaccinated, but the Dutch booster campaign has been slow to ignite, with the Health Minister saying all adults will receive an invitation by January 7th.
The restrictions imposed by the Dutch Government have been unpopular, with riots and protests breaking out in Rotterdam, The Hague and other cities.
IMAGE -“Prime Minister Mark Rutte” by U.S. Embassy The Hague is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0