Dec 15, 2020 - World

"Netherlands is closing down": PM announces strict, five-week lockdown

Photo of masked shoppers walking the streets in the Netherlands
Despite a call by authorities to stay home to avoid crowds, people flock to the city centres to get their last necessities before a severe lockdown is installed from Dec. 15 until Jan. 19. Photo: Niels Wenstedt/BSR Agency via Getty

The Netherlands will enter a tough lockdown this week in one of Europe’s most restrictive attempts to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a televised address Monday.

Why it matters: As COVID-19 continues to make a comeback in Europe, countries have taken measures to reduce travel and risk of contact ahead of the holiday season.

  • Cases in the Netherlands surged after Dec. 5 celebrations of Saint Nicholas’ birthday, despite the country's current partial lockdown, Reuters reported.
  • The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in The Netherlands has almost doubled from Nov. 29 to Dec. 13, per AP.

Details: Starting Tuesday, daycare centers, gyms, museums, zoos, cinemas, beauty salons and other nonessential businesses will close until at least Jan. 19.

  • Outside gatherings will be limited to two people, unless it's members of the same household.
  • The government is also urging residents to limit the number of guests to their home to no more than two people. The rules will be relaxed Dec. 24-27 when three guests will be allowed.
  • Schools must also switch to remote learning from Wednesday until at least Jan. 18.
  • Supermarkets, banks and pharmacies will stay open.

What he’s saying: “The Netherlands is closing down,” Rutte said in announcing the new measures, per Reuters.

  • “We realise the gravity of our decisions, right before Christmas,” he added as protesters banged pots and pans outside.
  • “We have to bite through this very sour apple before things get better."

The big picture: The Netherlands is the latest European country to implement strict measures.

  • Bars and restaurants in London and surrounding areas will be forced to close beginning Wednesday as the region is placed under England's highest alert for coronavirus restrictions.
  • Germany is also set to go into a strict lockdown this week, with all nonessential stores, services and schools forced to closed.
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