Netherlands to go into Christmas 'lockdown': PM

AFP , Saturday 18 Dec 2021

The Netherlands will go into "lockdown" over the Christmas period to try to stop a surge of the Omicron coronavirus variant, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Saturday.

A protestor holds a banner during a small anti-COVID restriction demonstration in the Hague, the Netherlands, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021. AP

All non-essential shops, restaurants, bars, cinemas, museums and theatres must shut from Sunday until January 14, while schools must close until at least January 9, Rutte said.

The number of guests that people are allowed in their house is also being cut from four to two, except for Christmas Day on December 25.

"I stand here tonight in a sombre mood," Rutte told a televised press conference.

"To sum it up in one sentence, the Netherlands will go back into lockdown from tomorrow.

"It is inevitable with the fifth wave and with Omicron spreading even faster than we had feared. We must now intervene as a precaution."

The head of the Dutch outbreak management team, Jaap van Dissel, told the news conference that the Omicron variant would overtake the Delta strain to become dominant in the Netherlands by the end of the year.

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