The Netherlands relaxes coronavirus measures, but restaurants stay shut – POLITICO

AMSTERDAM – The Netherlands will partially reopen on Saturday, the first European country to go into lockdown as the highly contagious Omicron type of coronavirus spreads to Europe.

“We are entering a new phase of the pandemic … the Omicron variant has caused an unprecedented increase in infections,” the new Health Minister, Ernst Kuipers, said at a press conference Friday, adding that despite the rise in cases, “we are taking steps carefully to reopen the country from some aspects.”

The country will ease some of its measures with all non-essential stores and related professions such as hairdressers allowed to open until 5 a.m., after being closed completely since Dec. 19. However, restaurants and bars must remain closed.

Universities and professional colleges will be allowed to reopen their doors.

However, Prime Minister Mark Root and Kuipers warned that easing measures would inevitably lead to a jump in the number of infections, prompting the latter to stress the importance of wearing face masks and for people to get a booster shot.

“Even with the current package of relaxations, our models show that we would reach an infection rate of about 80,000 positive cases per day,” Ruti said. The RIVM infectious disease agency has reported an average of 31,207 daily positive cases over the past seven days in a country of about 17.5 million people.

Support for the closure measures has decreased significantly in recent weeks, with many protests over non-compliance from shopkeepers. Many retailers are becoming increasingly resentful of the so-called border bouncy – Dutch residents evading lockdown measures by visiting shops and restaurants in neighboring Germany and Belgium.

Rutte said a long-term plan for the country’s COVID-19 strategy will be revealed next month, which Kuipers added: “We hope to reach a situation where we no longer need to close down the sectors we have just reopened.”

The government will meet again to discuss further facilities on January 25.

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