The Netherlands is ending the strict corona lockdown after almost four weeks and under strong pressure from entrepreneurs. But strict measures remain. Shops, hairdressers and sports clubs as well as universities may reopen from Saturday. This was announced by Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Friday evening in The Hague. Restaurants, museums, theaters and cinemas remain closed. Restaurant owners 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. “Everything at the same time is not possible, the risk is too great.” At the end of the month there may be new easing. 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 health system being overloaded remains high.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.
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. According to the government’s decision, shops are again allowed to welcome customers until 5 p.m. every day. Citizens are allowed to receive four visitors at home, up from two. The quarantine obligation does not apply to those who have received a booster vaccination or were infected this year. So far, only supermarkets or 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 now falling.
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