Netherlands is 1st country in Western Europe to resume restrictions to curb Covid’s new advance

Netherlands is 1st country in Western Europe to resume restrictions to curb Covid’s new advance

The Netherlands became this Friday (12) the first country in Western Europe to resume stricter measures of social isolation because of Covid since the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent has recently returned to being considered the epicenter of the pandemic in the world.

The government has announced that restaurants and stores will have to close early, as well as supermarkets and non-essential stores. The rules are valid from Saturday (13). Prime Minister Mark Rutte said restrictions that the Dutch thought were gone forever will be imposed at first for three weeks.

“The virus is everywhere and needs to be fought everywhere,” the politician said in a televised address. The government also banned the presence of fans at major sporting events and began recommending that the Dutch not have more than four visitors at home and that, if they can, return to work in a home office scheme.

Rutte called the ad “a very unpleasant message, with very unpleasant measures and far-reaching.”

According to the new rules, bars and supermarkets must close at 8 pm, and non-essential stores at 6 pm. EuroNews television broadcaster reported that an organization representing business owners has complained about the decision. “The service sector is, once again, footing the bill for the failures of government policies,” the organization said in a statement.

On the other hand, schools, cinemas, theaters and concert halls will remain open.

According to the Reuters agency, the government is also studying the adoption of a “health passport” modality, restricting the access of unvaccinated people to closed places. The measure, if the Executive decides to take it, will have to be approved by the Parliament.

As Rutte announced the new package of restrictions, a group of around 100 anti-lockdown protesters gathered outside the seat of government in The Hague. People were arrested for setting off fireworks and throwing objects at the police, who did not specify the number of arrests.

The Netherlands is one of the countries that have experienced a recent worsening in pandemic numbers. New infections topped the 16,000 mark for the second consecutive day this Friday, breaking the record of December 20, when 12,997 infections were recorded. Deaths, on the other hand, remain at a relatively low rate, with 32 in 24 hours – the record is on April 6, when 232 deaths were registered.

The rise in infections began with the relaxation of restrictions at the end of September and has put pressure on hospitals across the country, forced to cut back on patients with other illnesses to treat those with Covid-19.

According to data from the Dutch government, 82.4% of the population over 12 years of age has already been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus — among those aged 18 or over, the rate rises to 84.4%. In comparison, in Brazil these percentages are, respectively, 69.3% and 76.1% of the population.

The announcement of the restrictions comes a day after the Dutch government’s advisory panel for the pandemic recommended the imposition of a partial lockdown, with the closing of theaters and cinemas, suspension of major events and reduction of the opening hours of restaurants and cafes, according to NOS broadcaster.

The recommendation, however, was that the measures were valid for two weeks, one less than what was announced this Friday.

Last week, the Netherlands had already returned to requiring the use of masks in stores and other public places and expanded the list of places where you need to present a vaccination certificate or a recent negative test, to include museums and academies.

In recent days, other European countries have also registered an increase in cases of the disease, making the continent, once again, the epicenter of the virus in the world.

According to the AFP news agency, the ten countries that registered the biggest accelerations of cases in the week are from Europe: Hungary (77% increase, with 6,600 new cases per day), Poland (+66%, 14,600), Germany (+ 61%, 31,700), Austria (+57%, 9,600), Croatia (+54%, 5,500), France (+52%, 9,500), Switzerland (+49%, 2,900), Italy (+48%, 6,700) , Spain (+48%, 2,900) and Netherlands (+42%, 10,900).

On Thursday (11), Germany reached the worst level since the beginning of the health crisis and the absolute figure of daily infections reached a record of 50,196.

To stop the advance, the Berlin administration, which functions as an independent state, has adopted tougher rules against the disease. In practice, unvaccinated people will be prevented from entering spaces such as restaurants, cinemas and museums. The expectation is that other regions will follow suit.

This Friday, the Austrian Prime Minister, Alexander Schallenberg, announced that he will decide on Sunday on the imposition in the country of a kind of lockdown only for the unvaccinated – regardless of the national norm, the measure goes into effect on Monday in two provinces. The country has 63% of the population fully immunized.


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