The government of the Netherlands has put new, strict restrictions in place as the country faces a rapidly surging number of COVID-19 cases that is significantly straining the country’s healthcare system.
“The number of positive test results reported over recent weeks is extremely high,” Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said in a press conference, a Politico article reports. “The hard truth, unfortunately, behind the numbers is that more than 70 percent of the patients ending up in intensive care are unvaccinated.”
Consequently, although the Netherlands hasn’t moved to a lockdown, the government has taken a step in that direction by announcing that public places such as bars, restaurants, nonessential stores, cinemas, and theaters will close each night at 5 p.m. and will not reopen until 5 a.m. All citizens have been asked to “stay at home as much as possible.”
A Troubling Surge
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, just over 73 percent of the eligible population in the Netherlands is vaccinated for COVID-19. Nonetheless, 157,680 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the Netherlands between November 21 and 27. That is a one-week high during the pandemic. What’s more, 22,172 new cases were reported on November 24 alone.
According to the Dutch agency for disease control and prevention (RIVM), an average of 48 patients with COVID-19 is admitted into intensive care every day.
“As cases have surged, and with medical staff struggling to cope, hospitals throughout the country have had to cancel non-critical operations,” the Politico article reports. “Dutch medical experts warned of a ‘Code Black’ situation, with medical staff needing to choose which patients to treat and which not to treat.”
A Government’s Response
The number of new COVID-19 infections and subsequent hospital admissions “is not expected to fall in the short term,” especially since “the number of people testing positive for coronavirus has never been as high as during the past few weeks,” the Government of the Netherlands explained in a statement.
“The government is therefore imposing stricter measures to curb the number of infections and stop the health and care sector being further overburdened. The measures are intended to significantly reduce the frequency of contact between people,” the Dutch government explained. “During the daytime, people can still go to school, carry out their work, and do sports and other activities, but with some restrictions.”
The evenings, however, until at least Tuesday, December 14, will be different.
The New Measures
Basically, everything in the Netherlands now closes at 5 p.m.
While essential shops, such as supermarkets and chemists, can stay open until 8 p.m., bars, restaurants, theaters, and most stores now close at 5 p.m.
Amateur sports matches and training are not allowed after 5 p.m. and until 5 a.m. Although professional sports matches and training, as well as professional artistic and cultural activities, are permitted after 5 p.m., spectators or audiences are not allowed in those venues.
Finally, during the day, face masks are required in public, and also maintaining a 1.5-meter social distance at all locations where people have assigned seats — including restaurants, bars, cinemas, and theaters. This measure is intended to restrict occupancy indoors.
You can learn more about the new restrictions here.
Know Before You go
The U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention has issued a “Level 4: Very High Level of COVID-19” alert for the Netherlands, cautioning U.S. citizens to “Avoid travel to the Netherlands.” Based on that guidance, the U.S. State Department likewise issued a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for the Netherlands, bluntly writing “Do not travel to the Netherlands due to COVID-19.”
Be sure to read all of our The Netherlands coverage, including: