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Netherlands to go into strict Christmas lockdown

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By Reuters
Netherlands set to announce 'strict' Christmas lockdown - media
Netherlands set to announce 'strict' Christmas lockdown - media   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021   -  

<div> <p>By Bart H. Meijer and Stephanie van den Berg</p> <p><span class="caps">THE</span> <span class="caps">HAGUE</span> <del>The Netherlands will go into a strict lockdown over the Christmas and New Year period to try to contain the highly</del> contagious Omicron coronavirus variant, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Saturday.</p> <p>All non-essential shops and services, including restaurants, hairdressers, museums and gyms will be closed from Sunday until Jan. 14. All schools will be shut until at least Jan. 9.</p> <p>“The Netherlands is again shutting down. That is unavoidable because of the fifth wave that is coming at us with the Omicron variant,” Rutte told a televised news conference.</p> <p>Other measures include a recommendation that households receive no more than two visitors and that gatherings outside are also limited to a maximum of two people.</p> <p>A failure to act now would likely lead to “an unmanageable situation in hospitals”, which have already scaled back regular care to make space for <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 patients, Rutte said. </p> <p>Infections in the Netherlands have dropped from record levels in recent weeks after the introduction of a nighttime lockdown late last month. The Omicron variant arrived as the country was already battling a wave in coronavirus infections.</p> <p>Cases of the variant have surged since it was first found in the Netherlands three weeks ago, while hospitals are struggling with the large numbers of <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 patients in their wards, near the highest levels this year.</p> <p>Omicron is expected to become the most dominant variant of the virus in the Netherlands between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, leading Dutch infectious disease expert Jaap van Dissel said. </p> <p>While more than 85% of the Dutch adult population is vaccinated, fewer than 9% of adults have had a booster shot, one of the lowest rates in Europe. </p> <p>On Saturday the National Institute for Public Health (<span class="caps">RIVM</span>) reported a total of over 2.9 million <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 20,420 reported deaths. There were 14,616 new infections reported in 24 hours.</p> </div>