Coronavirus Christmas: Hard lockdown announced for the Netherlands
Addressing the public from his official office in The Hague on Monday, December 14, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced new coronavirus measures for the Netherlands and placed the country under a "hard lockdown" until (at least) January 19. On January 12, Rutte will announce whether the measures will be lifted, or whether the lockdown will continue.
Coronavirus lockdown in the Netherlands over Christmas
At a press conference on December 8, Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge announced that no measures would be relaxed over the Christmas holidays, and that catering establishments would remain closed until (at least) mid-January. Furthermore, he said it was possible that, if the number of daily coronavirus infections didn't drop, additional measures would be introduced before Christmas.
After meeting with cabinet ministers over the weekend and on Monday morning, Rutte has announced a number of new, stricter measures that will come into effect at midnight on Monday and will place the Netherlands under lockdown, saying he "had no choice". Speaking in a sombre tone, Rutte acknowledged the severity of the situation: "As a cabinet, we realise how harsh this decision is - especially so close to Christmas."
Non-essential businesses and schools to close
Rutte and De Jonge announced the following national measures:
- Schools and universities to close
- Non-essential shops to close
- Hairdressers and beauty salons to close
- Museums to close
- Cinemas to close
- Zoos to close
- Theatres to close
- Casinos to close
- Theme parks to close
- Public swimming pools and saunas to close
- Gyms and other indoor sports facilities to close
- Libraries to close
- Brothels to close
Tuesday, December 15 will be the last day of in-person teaching for schools in the Netherlands, from Wednesday all forms of education must be online. Childcare will remain available for children of parents who work in key jobs.
Alongside hairdressers and beauty salons, all those who work in other non-medical contact professions have been told to close their businesses until January 19. All businesses forced to close will be eligible for financial support. Community centres and hotels (but not their restaurants) will remain open.
Children up to the age of 18 will be allowed to continue team sports training outdoors. For adults, sports can only be played or practised by a maximum of two people at 1,5-metre distance.
In addition to the closure of a number of establishments, the government have changed the rules for the maximum number of household guests and maximum group size:
- Max. two household guests per day (excl. children under 13).
- Exception will be made for December 24, 25, and 26, when a max. of three guests (excl. children) can be received per day.
- When outside, max. group size of two (if not from the same household).
Coronavirus measures for Christmas
All these measures will come into effect this week, and will operate alongside the measures that were announced on October 13, and have been kept in place for the festive period:
- Stay home, work from home, and limit travel as much as possible.
- If you're showing symptoms then stay home.
- Catering establishments to stay closed.
- Sale of alcohol in shops banned after 8pm.
- Maximum 30 people for indoor areas where people are seated.
- Do not travel internationally (and don't book any trips before at least mid-March).
If you're unsure about whether your business counts as essential, visit the government website.