Lockdown since December 19: The Netherlands is reopening – but not everything

Status: 01/15/2022 02:11 a.m

As of today, the strict lockdown in the Netherlands will be relaxed – but not for all areas. Gastronomy and culture remain closed. But it is enough for innkeepers in particular – some also want to open despite the ban.

The Netherlands is ending the strict corona lockdown after almost four weeks and under strong pressure from entrepreneurs. But strict measures remain. Shops, hairdressers, sex shops and sports clubs as well as universities are allowed to reopen from today. This was announced by Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Friday evening in The Hague. Restaurants, museums, theaters and cinemas will remain closed – at least until January 25th. Innkeepers and the cultural sector are outraged.

In view of the dramatically increasing number of infections, more sectors could not be opened at the same time, said Rutte. “You can’t do everything at the same time, the risk is too great.” There may be new easing at the end of the month.

Still worried about health system

Health Minister Ernst Kuipers spoke of a “new phase of the pandemic”. The need among citizens and entrepreneurs is great. “We have to learn to live with the virus.” However, the risk of the healthcare system being overloaded remains high.

Resistance to the tough measures had increased sharply in the past few days. Restaurant owners have already announced protests for today and want to open their cafes and restaurants despite the ban. They are often supported by mayors. “The cabinet cannot leave gastronomy (& culture) alone,” tweeted the general director of the national industry association, Dirk Beljaarts. Rutte admitted: “I understand very well that this feels absolutely unfair.” After all, many would have prepared during the long months of closure to be able to open safely.

Valkenburg – like the Gauls

In the southern city of Valkenburg near Aachen, however, numerous shops and restaurants were already open on Friday. To vent their anger, shops, bars and restaurants opened here on Friday morning. Residents ate and drank al fresco on the main street. “The first few lockdowns were logical, I agreed with them, but it no longer feels fair,” said Didi Corten, who opened the outdoor terrace of his “Brasserie America”.

According to the government’s decision, shops are now allowed to receive customers again until 5 p.m. every day. Citizens are allowed to receive four visitors at home, previously there were two. The quarantine obligation does not apply to those who have received a booster vaccination or were infected this year. So far, only supermarkets and pharmacies have been open.

The lockdown from December 19 should give the hospitals some breathing room. Despite daily highs in new infections, the number of patients in hospitals is falling. More than 35,000 new infections were registered on Friday – more than ever before. That’s more than 1,300 cases per 100,000 people in seven days. For comparison: In Germany this value is 470.

Netherlands relaxes corona measures

Astrid Corall, ARD Brussels, 15.1.2022 00:02


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