Dutch health experts recommend hard lockdown, leaving only essential shops open

Photo: DutchNews.nl
Photo: DutchNews.nl

Dutch government health advisors are recommending a hard lockdown, with all but essential shops and services closed, broadcaster NOS and the Telegraaf said on Friday evening.

Citing sources close to the Outbreak Management Team, the media outlets say a hard lockdown is needed to brake the rise of the Omicrom variant of coronavirus, which now accounts for one quarter of all cases in Amsterdam.

A hard lockdown would mean cafes, bars, non-essential shops and the cultural sector would all have to close, as would schools, colleges and universities.

According to NOS, ministers will meet on Saturday to discuss the recommendations. Health minister Hugo de Jonge and prime minister Mark Rutte both said on Friday they were very concerned about the rise of Omicron.

NOS says ministers may decide to bring in the tough measures immediately, or hold further talks on Sunday. According to the Telegraaf, parliament may be recalled to debate the new measures on Wednesday.

The Netherlands is currently ramping up its booster vaccination campaign and De Jonge has pledged everyone will have had a third jab by mid January.

Currently the over 60s are able to make an appointment for a booster jab, but many are finding it difficult to get an appointment and regional health centre phone lines are overloaded.

Amsterdam officials said on Friday they were upping capacity from 5,000 to 15,000 jabs a day.

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