The head of the Dutch regional safety association on Sunday said that the Netherlands needs to go into a total lockdown, like Germany, as the number of overnight coronavirus infections neared 10,000.
Hubert Bruls told the Gelderlander newspaper that the Netherlands needed to impose new measures ‘otherwise the contrast with Germany is too great’.
‘We have to dovetail our policy to that of Germany,’ Bruls told the paper. Germany on Sunday announced that most shops and all schools will close from Wednesday until 10 January as it tries to slow the spread of the disease.
‘If you don’t do anything, then people will come over the border en masse to do their shopping, and the cabinet is well aware of this,’ Bruls said. ‘I assume measures will be made public very quickly.’
Bruls’ comments come as ministers and government advisors met at the prime minister’s official residence on Sunday to discuss what extra measures are needed. Mark Rutte warned a week ago that the rules would be tightened up if the number of infections continued to rise.
A full cabinet meeting has also been called for Monday and serious measures – such as the closure of garden centres and clothing shops – may now be on the cards, broadcaster NOS said, late on Sunday afternoon.
The Dutch public health institute RIVM said on Sunday morning it had received 9,924 reports of new coronavirus cases overnight. That is a rise of 760 on Saturday.
A further 166 people were admitted to hospital, down 81 on Saturday, while 36 people were transferred to intensive care wards.
There are now 1,767 coronavirus patients being treated in hospital and 497 being treated in IC units. This means more people have been admitted to hospital than discharged, patient coordination centre LCPS said.
On Sunday officials in Rotterdam, Amsterdam and The Hague urged Christmas shoppers to stay out of the city centre because they were becoming overcrowded. Similar warnings were issued in Leiden and The Hague on Saturday.
‘Let us all be sensible about this,’ The Hague mayor Jan van Zanen said.