Curfew extended to early March 3, still too early to assess the impact

The streets of Leeuwarden are virtually deserted at night. Photo: Laurens Aaij / HH/ANP
The streets of Leeuwarden are virtually deserted at night. Photo: Laurens Aaij / HH/ANP

As expected, the Dutch government has decided to extend the current evening curfew until the morning of March 3.

The decision has been taken because it is still too early to say what the impact of the curfew, from 9pm to 4.30 am, has been, justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus told reporters on Monday evening.

The curfew was introduced two weeks ago and will now expire on the day when several other key parts of the lockdown are due to end.

However, health minister Hugo de Jonge refused to speculate if some of the measures, like non-essential shop closures, will end next month.

There are still many uncertainties, although the number of daily infections now appears to be below 4,000 he said, referring to the arrival of various mutated versions of the virus in the Netherlands.

In addition, the shortage of vaccines may also slow the vaccination process, he said.

A police spokesman said extending the curfew was unlikely to pose a problem in terms of enforcement. ‘We have handed out a lot of fines, but most people are sticking to the curfew and have the proper papers with them,’ a spokesman told broadcaster NOS.

In the past week, the police have fined almost 7,000 people for being outside after 9pm without a valid reason.

The regional safety board association has also backed extending the curfew. ‘It is working well, and it has stopped people visiting each other so much. And that is what it is all about,’ safety board chairman Hubert Bruls said.

Meanwhile, some vaccination centres and drop-in test centres will again be closed on Tuesday because of the wintry weather. They include the Amsterdam centre at the RAI exhibition complex and several in Rotterdam.

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