The Netherlands will be placed in “containment” on Sunday, for the Christmas holiday period, in an attempt to stop the fifth wave of COVID-19 and the strong progression of the Omicron variant, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Saturday .
“I’m here tonight in a dark mood. To sum it up in one sentence, the Netherlands will return to containment from tomorrow, ”Rutte said during a televised press conference.
“It’s inevitable with the fifth wave and with Omicron spreading even faster than we had feared. We must intervene now as a precaution, ”continued the Prime Minister.
All non-essential stores, restaurants, bars, cinemas, museums and theaters must therefore close their doors from Sunday to January 14, while schools must keep their doors closed until at least January 9, Mr. Rutte said.
At the same time, the number of guests that people are allowed to receive in their homes is reduced to two, except for Christmas, as well as the day before and the day after this day of December 25, and for the New Year period, when it will be four. .
Looming “another Christmas which is completely different from what we would like”, recognized the head of government.
But he insisted that “Omicron forces us to limit the number of our contacts as quickly as possible and as much as possible, which is why the Netherlands will be confined”, he insisted.
The head of the Dutch epidemic management team, Jaap van Dissel, meanwhile said during the same press conference that Omicron will overtake the Delta variant to become dominant in the Netherlands by the end of the year.
The prime minister’s announcement comes just after an emergency government meeting and four days after further restrictions by authorities, including a week-long Christmas break in primary schools.
Even before this “confinement”, long queues had formed in front of the stores during the day on Saturday. Many Dutch people were doing their Christmas shopping, information having already started circulating about new restrictions, such as Ayman Massori, 19, who told AFP in The Hague that he wanted to “collect gifts”.
Health restrictions imposed by the Dutch government are increasingly unpopular, with riots erupting in cities like Rotterdam and The Hague for several nights in November.
Almost 86% of adults are vaccinated in the Netherlands.