More coronavirus restrictions could come in for Christmas, says De Jonge

Bars closed during the first lockdown. Photo:
Bars closed during the first lockdown. Photo:

Tougher coronavirus restrictions may be needed as early as next week if the worst fears about the Omicron variant are realised, health minister Hugo de Jonge has said.

The government’s Outbreak Management Team is due to convene on Friday to study the latest evidence from the United Kingdom, where Omicron is close to being the dominant strain.

On Thursday more than 88,000 positive tests were reported in the UK, a record for a 24-hour period, and infections are doubling every two days. Hospital admissions have also started to increase.

In the Netherlands the number of positive tests has declined by 25% in the last week, but 16,439 cases were reported on Thursday, which would have been a record until a month ago.

The number of patients in hospital has dropped by nearly 200 in the past two days to 2,568, but 650 people are being treated in intensive care, the highest number since mid-May.

On Monday the government extended the current restrictions, under which everything apart from supermarkets and other essential shops must close by 5pm, until January 14. Primary schools have also been ordered to close at the start of next week.

‘There is still a lot we don’t know about the Omicron variant,’ De Jonge said during a parliamentary debate on Wednesday, but the measures could be reassessed if the OMT concludes that the UK scenario is likely to be replicated in the Netherlands.

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