Dutch government imposes sweeping five-week Christmas lockdown
Stefan de Vries

After a so-called "intelligent lockdown" at the beginning of the pandemic, and a "partial lockdown" in  the fall, the Netherlands is now choosing an almost total lockdown for the next five weeks. 

The move comes as the number of positive COVID-19 tests has been rising steadily. 

Only last month, the Dutch government was cautiously optimistic that the second wave of coronavirus infections was on its way down. 

But on Sunday, new positive cases reached almost 10,000, leading the government to toughen the current restrictions.



Another reason for the new measures was the fear that tourists from Germany, which shutting stores, would travel to Dutch cities close to the border to buy their Christmas presents.

From Wednesday, all non-essential shops, as well as museums, theaters, zoos, cinemas and hairdressers, have to shut their doors. 

Restaurants and bars have already been closed since October, but hotels are still open.

However, as part of the new restrictions, they are no longer allowed to serve food, not even to their guests by room service.

All schools, from primary age to universities, will be closed as well. 

Daycare centers will be closed, except for children whose parents work in so-called "crucial sectors" such as health care, public transport, food and the media.

New rules also apply to private homes – people can receive a maximum of two adult guests per day, except for at Christmas, when three guests are allowed. 

Traveling abroad is discouraged until March 15, 2021, while public transport is again being reserved for essential journeys.


From Wednesday, new guidelines will close all non-essential shops. /AFP

From Wednesday, new guidelines will close all non-essential shops. /AFP


Negative reactions

Reactions from sectors affected by the lockdown have been mostly negative. 

There is a great deal of surprise among parents that primary schools have to close. The number of infections there is minimal and children hardly spread the virus. 

Yet, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said closing schools was not about the children, but about the parents' behavior. 

Parents are now more or less forced to work at home. Museums are "disappointed" they have to close for the third time this year. 

Schools regret the shutdown but say they are now much better prepared for online classes than at the beginning of the pandemic.

The National Catering Association calls the ban on food in hotels a "symbolic measure with no impact on the infection rate" and demanded a more generous support package from the government. 

Business associations fear shopkeepers will no longer be able to sell their stocks and call for more support.

The new measures will stay in place until at least January 19. The prime minister will give a press conference a week before that date to announce whether the restrictions can be lifted or not.

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