Stay home this New Year, says prime minister, as police break up more illegal parties

Sparklers will not be banned. Photo:
Sparklers will not be banned. Photo:

Prime minister Mark Rutte has again called on people to stay home during the New Year festivities, saying the situation is all the more urgent now that hospitals are coping with a steadily increasing number of coronavirus patients.

People should keep to all the rules, and that means no more than two guests and no fireworks, Rutte said.

‘It was great that we were all clapping for healthcare at the beginning of this year, but if you really want to help, then keep to the rules and don’t set off fireworks,’ Rutte said. ‘And this is an urgent appeal to the entire country.’

On Wednesday night, police broke up at least two illegal parties, one attended by some 140 people in an office block in Hoofddorp and the other with about 40 guests in Tegelen in Limburg.

Officials are concerned that the New Year celebrations, traditionally celebrated in the Netherlands with a firework frenzy, may get out of hand. Fireworks have been banned in an effort to stop crowds gathering and reduce the risk of injury, and in some areas police leave has been cancelled.

In a bid to encourage people to stay home, several local authorities have organised online parties targeting youngsters and the government has invested €1m in the digital event Goodbye 2020, which offers 40 live streams featuring some 250 artists.

Another Dutch tradition, the oudejaarsconference or review of the year and performed by leading comedians, will go ahead this year, even though theatres are all closed. Joep van ‘t Hek will perform his show on NPO1 from 10.30pm while Comedy Central will host Javier Guzman’s show Raspopulist.

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