The Netherlands returned to “partial closure” on Wednesday (October 14, 2020) after Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Tuesday evening that it would shut down bars and restaurants to control the coronavirus in one of Europe’s major hotspots.
“Today we are announcing new and solid measures, and we will actually take partial blockade,” Rutte said at a television press conference.
He said public gatherings of more than four people would be banned and sales of alcoholic beverages in the evening would also be banned.
Unlike measures imposed during the partial closure earlier this year, the school will remain open and public transport will continue to operate.
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This action lasts at least 4 weeks and the impact is reviewed after 2 weeks. If it turns out to be inefficient, stricter restrictions will follow, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said.
These measures also include mandating people 13 years of age and older to wear cloth masks in indoor spaces. Up to 30 people can gather indoors and store opening hours are limited.
17 million cases in the country have soared in recent weeks, hitting nearly 7,400 daily records on Tuesday. It is currently one of the highest rates of infection per capita worldwide.
Rutte’s government hated re-imposing tighter regulations that could undermine a fragile economic recovery, but he was under pressure from health experts to take steps to avoid overloading the healthcare system.
Although many neighbors in Europe have imposed mandatory restrictions, the Dutch almost adhered to voluntary guidelines, including wearing masks.
But Rutte said the government would pass emergency legislation if necessary to mandate the use of masks, and he again urged citizens to avoid unnecessary travel.