The Netherlands returns to partial containment

Back to the Netherlands. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Friday the reintroduction of partial containment with a series of health restrictions, notably affecting the restaurant sector, to cope with a record number of Covid-19 cases.

Rutte called the new round of measures at a press conference in The Hague “a big blow of a few weeks, because the virus is everywhere, all over the country, in all sectors and at all ages”.

Clashes between police and demonstrators

Police used a water cannon to disperse protesters who were throwing stones and firing fireworks during the press conference to protest the new measures, described by the government earlier this week as “partial containment.”

About 200 protesters clashed with riot police and mounted police outside the Justice and Security Ministry, where the press conference was being held.

Three weeks minimum

The measures come into effect on Saturday evening and will run for at least three weeks. “Fortunately, the vast majority (of the population) is vaccinated, otherwise the misery in hospitals would be incalculable at this time,” Rutte said.

Bars, restaurants and essential stores like supermarkets will close at 8 p.m. and non-essential stores at 6 p.m. Citizens are called upon not to accommodate more than four people in their homes and to telework, “unless this is really not possible,” said Rutte.

Politically sensitive restrictions

Public protests are cut and football matches will be played behind closed doors, including the World Cup qualifier between the Netherlands and Norway next week. However, schools remain open and outings outside the home authorized. The government is also preparing to restrict access to dining and leisure places after the three-week period only to people vaccinated or cured of Covid, and no longer to those people with a negative test.

The new restrictions are politically sensitive, with thousands demonstrating in The Hague on Sunday after the government announced the reintroduction of masks in some public spaces.

Record of new cases

The Netherlands announced 16,364 new cases of Covid in the past 24 hours on Thursday, breaking the previous record of 12,997 cases set in December 2020. The country of 17 million people has recorded 2.2 million cases and 18,612 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Hospitals have warned they will not be able to overwinter under current conditions.

The peak of Covid comes despite the fact that 82% of Dutch people over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated people account for most intensive care cases (69%) and hospital admissions (55%), but declining vaccine effectiveness, especially in the elderly, was also implicated. The Dutch government has announced that the vaccine booster campaign will start in December.

Source: 20Minutes – Une by

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