Country retreats into lockdown as record 16,000 cases reported

·3-min read

A partial lockdown has been imposed in the Netherlands after Covid cases started to surge, making it the first western European country to reimpose restrictions since the summer.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the lockdown on Friday (local time) and it was expected to run for three weeks, saying his government wants to "deliver a hard blow to the virus".

Starting from November 13 non-essential stores and services are only allowed to open from 6am to 6pm.

Essential stores like supermarkets, pet shops, chemists and hospitality venues, like cafes and restaurants, will trade between from 6am to 8pm.

Working from home is encouraged, unless a person needs to be at their workplace and people are only allowed four visitors over at their home per day.

People walk in the streets, in Eindhoven, on November 12, 2021 as new Covid-19 restrictions have been announced by the Dutch Prime Minister.
Th Netherlands is putting its residents in partial lockdown as hospitals struggle with record Covid cases reported. Source: AFP via Getty Images

Throughout the partial lockdown, amateur and professional sports will not be open to the public.

New coronavirus infections in the country of 17.5 million have increased rapidly after social distancing measures were dropped late September and hit a pandemic record high with about 16,300 reported on Thursday.

The fresh wave of Covid-19 infections has put pressures on hospitals throughout the Netherlands and forced hospitals to scale back regular care to treat Covid patients. 

About 85 per cent of the adult population in the Netherlands has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and only a small group of people have been given booster shots.

In December, booster shots will be offered to people aged over 80.

Last month, roughly 55 per cent of patients in Dutch hospitals and 70 per cent of those in intensive care were unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated, data provided by the Netherlands' Institute for Health (RIVM) showed.

The Netherlands largely ended lockdown restrictions at the end of September.

People leave Rembrandtplein square in Amsterdam after a partial lockdown has been imposed.
People in Amsterdam's Rembrandtplein square. The lockdown is expected to last three weeks. Source: AFP via Getty Images

Protests ensue against Covid measures

Up until last month, the Dutch government thought the relatively high vaccination rate would mean Covid measures could ease further towards the end of this year.

It's not the only European country contemplating stricter measures as winter approaches and cases start to climb.

Austria has indicated it is just days away from putting unvaccinated people into lockdown.

Shortly after the Dutch Prime Minister announced the lockdown, protests against the partial lockdown began.

Hundreds of young people gathered in a central square in Leeuwarden, 140 kilometres north of Amsterdam, Dutch broadcaster NOS reported.

A flare burns on a barricade built with bicycles by anti-vaxxers and anti-lockdown protesters on November 12, 2021 in The Hague, Netherlands.
Clashes erupt between anti-lockdown protesters and anti-riot forces as the Dutch government announce new measures to counter a new wave of Covid-19 virus infections. Source: Getty Images

Video showed protesters setting off fireworks and holding flares billowing smoke and NOS reported riot police later moved in to push the protesters off the square.

In the southern city of Breda bars defied the mandated closing time and remained open, local media reported.

In the central city of Utrecht, student Suzanne van de Weerd wasn’t happy with the new restrictions.

“It is very difficult for me to accept” the lockdown, she said. 

“It is too bad and that’s something that spoils my social life as a student and the way I relax.”

With The Associated Press and Reuters

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