Dutch PM Mark Rutte announces new five-week lockdown lasting through Christmas as Covid cases rise


The Netherlands will go into a tough second lockdown, with the closure of all schools and shops for at least five weeks, in a government-led push to fight the coronavirus, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Monday. 

‘The Netherlands is closing down,’ he said to the sound of protesters banging pots and pans outside his office in The Hague. ‘We realise the gravity of our decisions, right before Christmas.’

The measures, detailed in a rare live television address, include limiting people to receiving a maximum of two guests over the age of 13 per day. 

An exception will be made for three days around Christmas, when three adult visitors will be permitted, he said.

People were further advised to stay at home, not to travel to work and to avoid contact with other people as much as possible.

‘The less contacts we have, the better. We have to do everything to get to a better place. And yes, it will get better.’

‘We have to bite through this very sour apple before things get better’.

The Netherlands will go into a tough second lockdown, with the closure of all schools and shops for at least five weeks, in a government-led push to fight the coronavirus, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Monday

Protesters banging pots and pans could be heard outside Rutte's office in The Hague during his address

Protesters banging pots and pans could be heard outside Rutte’s office in The Hague during his address

Rutte appealed to people to postpone non-essential international travel until March 15, two months later than a previous recommendation.

‘The reality is that we are not dealing with an innocent flu, as some of those protesting outside believe, but a virus that can reach anyone,’ he said.

From Tuesday, all public places – including daycare centres, gyms, museums, zoos, cinemas, hairdressers and beauty salons – will close until January 19. 

Schools will close until January 18.

Supermarkets, banks and pharmacies will be allowed to stay open. 

As news of the looming lockdown leaked out before Rutte’s speech, many people keen to take their last chance at Christmas shopping flocked into city centres.

Lines formed Monday afternoon at shops, museums and even marijuana-selling coffee shops as people tried to beat the lockdown.

‘It’s ridiculous at the moment,’ said Bart van der Wal at the Tweede Kamer coffeeshop in a narrow alley near Amsterdam’s famous canals, where clients were lined up around the corner. 

‘Everybody thinks the coffeeshops will be closed tomorrow.’

Under the new rules, all non-essential shops will close until at least January 19, along with schools, universities, bars and restaurants

Under the new rules, all non-essential shops will close until at least January 19, along with schools, universities, bars and restaurants 

'The Netherlands is closing down': Rutte said the country had to 'do everything' to get to a better place amid a rise in coronavirus infections

‘The Netherlands is closing down’: Rutte said the country had to ‘do everything’ to get to a better place amid a rise in coronavirus infections

Lines formed Monday afternoon at shops, museums and even marijuana-selling coffee shops in Amsterdam as people tried to beat the lockdown

Lines formed Monday afternoon at shops, museums and even marijuana-selling coffee shops in Amsterdam as people tried to beat the lockdown

Van der Wal said he hoped coffeeshops would be allowed to stay open for takeout ‘because otherwise people will deal on the street.’

Bars and restaurants have been closed since mid-October, although many restaurants, cafes and coffeeshops have offered takeout sales. 

The partial lockdown initially slowed high infection rates, but they have been rising again in recent days.

‘It’s serious. It’s very serious,’ Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said Monday ahead of a Cabinet meeting to discuss action to rein in the spread of the virus. 

‘We see the infection numbers rising sharply in recent days, we see that hospital admissions are increasing again, the pressure on the health care sector remains high.’  

New coronavirus infections in the country of 17 million increased by around 8,500 in the 24 hours to Monday morning, data released by national health authorities showed

New coronavirus infections in the country of 17 million increased by around 8,500 in the 24 hours to Monday morning, data released by national health authorities showed

Rutte said that with vaccinations starting in the new year, 2021 would be a year ‘of hope, of light at the end of the tunnel.’ 

New coronavirus infections in the country of 17 million increased by around 8,500 in the 24 hours to Monday morning, data released by national health authorities showed.

This followed a jump by almost 10,000 a day earlier, which was the biggest rise in more than six weeks.

The Netherlands has recorded more than 610,000 cases and upwards of 10,000 deaths since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite restrictions, shopping districts across the Netherlands have been crowded for weeks, with a spike in infections after the December 5 gift-giving celebrations marking the birthday of Saint Nicholas. 

The Netherlands recorded 29 more deaths on Sunday. Some 10,048 people in the country have died from Covid-19 since the pandemic began

The Netherlands recorded 29 more deaths on Sunday. Some 10,048 people in the country have died from Covid-19 since the pandemic began

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