By Chris King • 26 January 2022 • 3:46
Mark Rutte, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands announced on the evening of Tuesday, January 25 that bars, restaurants, museums, theatres, and other venues will be allowed to re-open from today, Wednesday 26, under the condition that they must close by 10pm each night.
Dutch citizens have endured some of Europe’s tightest Covid restrictions for more than one month, with bars, restaurants, and cultural venues all being forced to close down. Around a quarter of all primary schools in the country have been shut due to the government’s strict stance on quarantine.
Mr Rutte’s decision comes amid record coronavirus infection levels in Holland, although, as with other countries, the hospitalisations and deaths from the Omicron strain have been a lot less than with Delta.
Addressing a news conference in The Hague, the Prime Minister said, “We are taking a big step today to unlock the Netherlands while the infections numbers are really going through the roof”, pointing out that the action is not without potential risks.
Sporting events were not as lucky though. Stadiums will only be allowed to operate with one-third capacity. Even before any official announcement had been made, a joint statement made by Holland’s football clubs and administrators, in which they called the action, “a proposal without perspective”.
Rutte was pressured into easing restrictions after receiving petitions from the mayors of 30 municipalities last week. Business owners had been protesting the government’s Covid restrictions.
Paul Depla, the mayor of Breda, commented, “I can’t explain why here in Breda IKEA is open, but the theatre, where people can safely watch a performance, is closed”.
A 51% rise in Covid cases has been recorded this week by the Dutch national public health institute. More than 366,000 infections were registered, while ICU admissions fell by 34%, as reported by euronews.com.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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