Dec 19, 2021

Netherlands announce lockdown over Christmas

The Netherlands has announced a strict lockdown over Christmas amid concerns over the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Non-essential shops, bars, gyms hairdressers and other public venues will be closed until at least mid-January. Two guests per household will be allowed. However, a maximum of four will be allowed on 24-26 December and on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. 

Events are not permitted other than funerals, weekly markets selling groceries and professional sports matches with no spectators.

All schools will be closed until at least 9 January, while other lockdown measures will remain in place until at least 14 January.

Countries across Europe have been tightening restrictions as the heavily mutated variant spreads.

The new rules in the Netherlands - the strictest to have been announced over Omicron so far - come into force on Sunday.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the measures were "unavoidable".

"I stand here tonight in a sombre mood. And a lot of people watching will feel that way too," Mr Rutte told a news conference on Saturday. "To sum it up in one sentence, the Netherlands will go back into lockdown from tomorrow."

(BBC News)