Strict Christmas lockdown begins in the Netherlands
The Netherlands on Sunday entered a strict COVID-19 lockdown through the Christmas holiday aimed at slowing the spread of the omicron COVID-19 variant, Reuters reported.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rhutte announced on Saturday that non-essential stores, bars, hairdressers, gyms and museums will be closed until Jan.14.
The new ban also prohibits gatherings outside of more than two people.
The announcement reportedly led to residents rushing to stockpile gifts and get last-minute haircuts before the holidays.
Reuters also noted that the Dutch association for hospitality services said that workers in the industry are demanding compensation for lost income over the holiday period.
“Closing all bars and restaurants in such an important month is incredibly painful and dramatic. We need compensation and an exit strategy,” the association said.
Dutch hospitals have already begun to cancel regular operations for weeks in an attempt to avoid running out of beds for COVID-19 patients, the news service added.
Approximately 85 percent of the Dutch population is fully vaccinated against the virus. But just more than 9 percent have had boosters, one of the lowest rates in western Europe.
COVID-19 cases in the country dropped significantly after a nighttime lockdown curfew was implemented last month, but are expected to surge as the omicron strain spreads, Reuters noted.