The Netherlands relaxes coronavirus measures, but restaurants stay shut

AMSTERDAM — The Netherlands — the primary European country to go into lockdown because the extremely contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus unfold to Europe — will partially reopen on Saturday.

“We are entering into a new phase of the pandemic … The Omicron variant has caused an unprecedented surge in infections,” new Health Minister Ernst Kuipers stated at a press convention Friday, including that regardless of the rise in circumstances, “we are carefully taking steps to reopen the country in some ways.”

The nation will calm down a few of its measures with all non-essential shops and call professions comparable to hairdressers allowed to be open till 5 p.m., after having been totally shuttered since December 19. Restaurants and bars, nonetheless, should keep closed.

Universities and vocational schools might be allowed to reopen their doorways.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Kuipers warned, nonetheless, that the relief of measures will inevitably lead to a bounce within the variety of infections, main the latter to emphasise the significance of sporting face masks and for folks to get the booster jab.

“Even with the current package of relaxations our models show that we will reach an infection rate of some 80,000 positive cases daily,” Rutte stated. The RIVM company for infectious ailments has reported a mean of 31,207 each day constructive circumstances during the last seven days in a rustic of some 17.5 million.

Support for the lockdown measures has visibly decreased in current weeks, with a number of non-compliance protests from shopkeepers. Many retailers turned more and more disgruntled due to so-called border-hoppers — Dutch residents evading lockdown measures by visiting shops and eating places in neighboring Germany and Belgium.

Rutte stated {that a} long-term plan for the nation’s COVID-19 technique might be revealed subsequent month, to which Kuipers added: “We hope to reach a situation wherein we no longer need to close sectors which we have just reopened.”

The authorities will reconvene to debate additional relaxations on January 25.

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