“We’re living through an unprecedented period in peace times,” says the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte.
He held an urgent press conference this evening where he confirmed that the Netherlands is, indeed, going into a strict month-long lockdown. “This isn’t the regular flu, as the demonstrators outside seem to think,” he said.
You could clearly hear the demonstrators during the conference. “The reality is that, to date, more than a million regular hospital treatments have had to be postponed. And that, of the 6,000 people in the ICU, more than 2,5 times are youngsters. These, without exception, have long-lasting ailments, even after leaving the hospital.”
The lockdown restrictions are:
- Online schooling across the board. There are exceptions for certain kids.
- All non-essential shops are closed from tomorrow. You can collect goods from hardware shops, if you have ordered them online. “We will, of course, do everything we can do support employers and their staff,” says Rutte. Other expectations are petrol stations; business and financial service sites, pharmacies, pet shops, audiologists and opticians;
Sites for repair and maintenance of consumer goods and (motor) vehicles, laundries and dry cleaners, outdoor Christmas tree and flower shops, wholesalers (business to business), and service points for receiving and sending letters and postal packages.
- All indoor and outdoor public-access facilities are closed. That includes casinos, theatres, zoos, and so on. You can still collect and return books to and from the library. Hotels remain open, but their restaurants will close and room service is no longer allowed.
- All contact professions are closed. There is an exception for medical professions such as dentists
- You can’t have more than two visitors at a time. On 24 -26 December, you may have three, excluding u/13s. A 1,5 m distance and other hygiene measures must be maintained. You may only be outdoors in pairs unless everyone is from the same household.
- Gyms, pools, and all other indoor sports facilities are closed. Kids up to the age of 18 can take part in outdoor team sports. But this, and competitions, are prohibited for anyone older than that, besides professional sportspeople
- Rutte has urgently advised people to stay home as much as possible. Don’t travel unnecessarily and don’t book any overseas trips until at least mid-March. Work from home as much as possible. “This isn’t being done as much as in the first lockdown.”
“If the figures had declined instead of rising, the situation would’ve different. We don’t have the luxury of easing restrictions. We have to go through this tough time before things will improve.”
“And things will improve eventually. With the vaccine, 2021 will become a year of hope. There is light at the end of the tunnel,” Rutte concluded.
These measures are to remain in place until 19 January (school will reopen on 18 Janaury). Prime Minister Rutte and the Minister of Health, Hugo de Jonge, will hold a press conference on 12 January to lay out the way forward.