FILE PHOTO: People do their Christmas shopping before the Dutch government's expected announcement of a "strict" Christmas lockdown to curb the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, in the city centre of Nijmegen, Netherlands December 18, 2021. Photograph:( Reuters )
The news came as a shock to many Dutch people as they headed into the Christmas and New Year period. Many people rushed out on Saturday to stock up on presents and food and to get a last-minute haircut
The Netherlands began lockdown to prevent spread of Omicron variant on Sunday. The restrictions have come just as Christmas season approaches
Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the sudden shut-down on Saturday evening, ordering the closure of all but the most essential stores, as well as restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums and other public places from Sunday until at least Jan. 14.
The news came as a shock to many Dutch people as they headed into the Christmas and New Year period. Many people rushed out on Saturday to stock up on presents and food and to get a last-minute haircut.
Hospitality workers demanded compensation for lost income in the holiday season, while gym owners stressed the importance of exercise during a health crisis.
"Closing all bars and restaurants in such an important month is incredibly painful and dramatic. We need compensation and an exit strategy", the Dutch association for hospitality services said.
All schools will close a week early for the Christmas break on Monday and will remain shut until at least Jan. 9, while households are recommended to receive no more than two visitors and gatherings outside are also limited to a maximum of two.
Coronavirus infections in the Netherlands have dropped from record levels in recent weeks after a night-time lockdown was put in place late last month. But cases involving the Omicron variant have increased rapidly since the beginning of December and the strain is expected to become dominant before the end of the year.