The Netherlands will return to a partial lockdown from Saturday after the government ordered restaurants and shops to close early and barred spectators from major sporting events in an effort to contain a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases.
Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte said restrictions that the Dutch people had thought had ended for good were being reimposed for three weeks.
Supermarkets and non-essential retailers will also close earlier and social distancing measures will be reimposed. The government recommended that no more than four visitors be received at home, effective immediately.
“Tonight we are bringing a very unpleasant message with very unpleasant and far-reaching measures,” Rutte said in a televised address on Friday evening. “The virus is everywhere and needs to be combated everywhere.”
The Dutch government was also exploring ways to restrict access to indoor venues for people who have not been vaccinated, a politically sensitive measure that would require parliamentary approval.
The measures are meant to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases that is straining hospitals across the country.
New infections topped 16,000 for the second day in a row on Friday, beating the previous record of just under 13,000 confirmed cases in a day set in December last year.