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Netherlands begins ‘painful’ Christmas coronavirus lockdown

FILE PHOTO: People do their Christmas shopping before the Dutch government's expected announcement of a "strict" Christmas lockdown to curb the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, in the city centre of Nijmegen, Netherlands December 18, 2021. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

FILE PHOTO: Individuals do their Christmas purchasing earlier than the Dutch authorities’s anticipated announcement of a “strict” Christmas lockdown to curb the unfold of the Omicron coronavirus variant, within the metropolis centre of Nijmegen, Netherlands December 18, 2021. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

AMSTERDAM — Purchasing streets within the Netherlands had been closed and other people’s Christmas plans had been in disarray because the nation started a lockdown on Sunday aimed toward limiting an anticipated COVID-19 surge brought on by the rise of the Omicron variant.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte introduced the sudden shut-down on Saturday night, ordering the closure of all however essentially the most important shops, in addition to eating places, hairdressers, gyms, museums and different public locations from Sunday till not less than Jan. 14.

The information got here as a shock to many Dutch folks as they headed into the Christmas and New Yr interval. Many individuals rushed out on Saturday to refill on presents and meals and to get a last-minute haircut.

Hospitality employees demanded compensation for misplaced revenue within the vacation season, whereas gymnasium house owners pressured the significance of train throughout a well being disaster.

“Closing all bars and eating places in such an necessary month is extremely painful and dramatic. We’d like compensation and an exit technique”, the Dutch affiliation for hospitality companies stated.

All faculties will shut every week early for the Christmas break on Monday and can stay shut till not less than Jan. 9, whereas households are beneficial to obtain not more than two guests and gatherings outdoors are additionally restricted to a most of two.

Coronavirus infections within the Netherlands have dropped from document ranges in current weeks after a night-time lockdown was put in place late final month. However circumstances involving the Omicron variant have elevated quickly for the reason that starting of December and the pressure is anticipated to change into dominant earlier than the tip of the 12 months.

This can pose a giant drawback for hospitals, which have been cancelling common look after weeks as they attempt to keep away from operating out of beds as a result of excessive numbers of COVID-19 sufferers on their wards.

The federal government stated on Saturday stated it could speed up the administration of booster vaccine pictures after a gradual begin of the marketing campaign, and now goals to ship further pictures to everybody over the age of 60 earlier than the tip of the month.

Whereas greater than 85% of the Dutch grownup inhabitants is vaccinated, fewer than 9% of adults have to this point had a booster shot, one of many lowest charges in Europe.

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