Netherlands to impose 8.30pm curfew nationwide from Friday in a bid to stem tide of coronavirus

  • The Netherlands will impose a nationwide curfew from 8.30pm-4.30am Friday
  • Country will also ban flights from Britain, South Africa and South America 
  • Prior to the curfew, the Netherlands had already been under strict lockdown 

The Netherlands will impose a nationwide curfew from 8.30pm on Friday for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic in a bid to stem the spread of the disease.

The curfew will cover the hours from 8:30pm to 4:30am and last until February 10, Prime Minister Mark Rutte told a press conference, adding that he would seek the support of parliament for the measure.

The move is part of beefed-up restrictions to rein in the spread of a new more contagious virus variant from the UK that already accounts for at least one in every 10 Dutch infections. 

The Netherlands will also ban flights from Britain, South Africa and South America from January 23 as concern mounts about the spread of Covid-19 variants. 

The Netherlands has counted 13,264 deaths in the pandemic, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University

With Rutte’s administration in caretaker mode since resigning last week, it will have to convince skeptical lawmakers to back the curfew before it can be enforced. 

A debate is expected Thursday and Rutte appealed for support, saying ‘we are at a crucial moment for our security, for our national public health.’ 

If parliament approves the curfew, the Netherlands would join other European Union countries that have told people to stay home after dark, including neighboring Belgium, France, Italy and parts of Germany. 

‘The most important measure is that we have the intention of introducing a curfew. That means a ban from being outside between certain hours,’ Rutte said.

‘Of course, we can’t and don’t want to take such a drastic step without the approval of parliament. If there is sufficient support only then we will take a definitive decision.’

Rutte and his cabinet resigned on Friday over a scandal involving child tax benefits, but are staying on in a caretaker capacity until elections in mid-March with the power to take decisions on coronavirus measures.

The Netherlands will also ban flights from Britain, South Africa and South America from January 23 as concern mounts about the spread of Covid-19 variants, Rutte said. Above, people walk on an empty street in Amsterdam amid a national lockdown

Prior to the announcement of a curfew, the Netherlands had already been under a five-week lockdown, seeing its toughest measures since the start of the pandemic, and will remain that way until at least February 9. 

The government says a slow decrease in the number of new infections and the threat posed by new variants have forced it to take tougher action. 

The lockdown has seen all schools and nonessential shops close for the past month, along with public venues such as cinemas, museums and libraries. 

There are also strict limits in place on the size of gatherings both indoors and outside.

People can only go outside to buy essential items, to get some fresh air, walk the dog, go to work if it’s not possible to work from home and to provide essential informal care or support. 

Adults can exercise alone or with one other person, and only outside. Children aged 17 and under may take part in team sports and play matches against children at the same club, but only outside.

Prior to the announcement of a curfew, the Netherlands had already been under a five-week lockdown, seeing its toughest measures since the start of the pandemic, and will remain that way until at least February 9

Public transport is open for essential use only.  

The Dutch public health institute announced Tuesday that new infections decreased 21.5% over the past week to 38,776 as the lockdown that began in mid-December began to bear fruit. 

But at the same time, it warned that the new, more transmissible virus variant that led to a sharp spike in infections in the UK and Ireland is expected to make up at least half of all new Dutch COVID-19 cases by mid-February.

The Netherlands has counted 13,264 deaths in the pandemic, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The country recorded 4,356 cases and 107 deaths from coronavirus in the last 24-hour period. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to extend the country’s lockdown on Tuesday until at least February 14, while introducing new rules requiring people to wear medical masks in shops and on public transport

The tightening of restrictions in Netherlands is in keeping with similar moves in Germany and Denmark, with Berlin extending its Covid lockdown on Tuesday amid concern over variants of the virus in Europe.  

Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to extend the country’s lockdown on Tuesday until at least February 14, while introducing new rules requiring people to wear medical masks in shops and on public transport.  

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said her country may also have to extend its lockdown measures beyond early February despite a fall in infections, due to the more easily-transmitted variant of the virus from the UK. 

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