Niederlande beenden Lockdown – Cafés und Kultur bleiben dicht

15 Jan. 2022 11:36

The Netherlands is ending the strict corona lockdown after almost four weeks and under strong pressure from entrepreneurs. However, restaurants, museums, cinemas and theaters will remain closed. Innkeepers and cultural workers are outraged. New easing could follow at the end of January.

Shops, hairdressers and sports clubs as well as universities may reopen from Saturday. After almost four weeks, the Netherlands is ending the strict corona lockdown. This was announced by Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Friday evening in The Hague.

However, the easing does not affect all areas of public life. Restaurants, museums, theaters and cinemas will also remain closed. Innkeepers and the cultural sector are outraged. In view of the dramatically increasing number of corona infections, not all sectors could be opened at the same time, said Rutte.

“You can’t do everything at the same time, the risk is too great.”

At the end of the month there may be new easing, the prime minister said.

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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.

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

Resistance to the tough measures had increased sharply in the past few days. Restaurant owners have already announced protests for Saturday and want to open their cafes and restaurants despite the ban. They are often supported by mayors. In the southern city of Valkenburg near Aachen, numerous shops and restaurants were already open on Friday.

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The lockdown imposed on December 19 was intended to give hospitals some breathing room. The prime minister justified the measures with the extremely rapid spread of the omicron variant of the corona virus. Despite daily highs in positive corona findings, the number of hospital patients in the country is falling. More than 35,000 new corona cases were registered on Friday – more than ever before. That’s more than 1,300 cases per 100,000 people in seven days.

Shortly after the lockdown was imposed, entrepreneurs and innkeepers in particular complained about loss of income. They demanded compensation for the failed Christmas business. Unions spoke of another “heavy blow” for workers in the catering and retail sectors. Schools also expressed concern about the consequences for children and young people.

Earlier this year, protesters and police clashed in Amsterdam as thousands of people demonstrated against the measures imposed, despite the ban on mass gatherings.

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(dpa/rt)

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