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Dutch COVID-19 restrictions extended through Christmas holidays

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By Reuters
Dutch COVID-19 restrictions extended through Christmas holidays
Dutch COVID-19 restrictions extended through Christmas holidays   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021   -  

<div> <p>By Bart H. Meijer</p> <p><span class="caps">AMSTERDAM</span> – The Netherlands will extend <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 restrictions through the Christmas holidays, including the early closure of schools, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday.</p> <p>The rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which is making up roughly 1% of new infections in the country, “is a reason to be concerned and to be cautious,” Rutte said in a televised comments.</p> <p>Elementary schools will close a week early to try to prevent children from infecting older family members during Christmas as hospitals struggle with a wave of <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 patients.</p> <p>Rutte said a second Christmas “during which grandparents couldn’t hug their grandkids under the tree” was a painful necessity. </p> <p>Booster vaccine shots to improve immunity against the Omicron variant will be offered to all Dutch adults before the end of January, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said.</p> <p>Other restrictions in place since Nov. 28, including the closing of restaurants, bars, non-essential stores and other public places from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m., the barring of all spectators from sporting events, and advice to work from home as much as possible were extended through Jan. 14.</p> <p>Infections in the country of 17.5 million have dropped from record levels following the introduction of the nighttime lockdown, but remain relatively high at around 85 per 100,000 inhabitants.</p> <p>The number of <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 patients in hospitals has remained among the highest levels of the year and hospitals throughout the country have been ordered to postpone all non-emergency operations for weeks to free up beds in intensive care units. </p> <p>As infections remain highest among young children, experts had advised the government to close schools a week earlier.</p> <p>The Netherlands has registered almost 2.9 million coronavirus infections, with 20,214 related deaths.</p> <p/> </div>