“Today we are announcing new and sturdy measures and in fact we are going to a partial lockdown,” Rutte said in a televised news conference on Tuesday.
“It hurts, but it’s the only way. We have to be stricter,” the Dutch PM added.
Under the new restrictions, bars, restaurants and cafes will close (with restaurants and coffee shops remaining open only for take-away), while face masks are becoming mandatory in all indoor places for people aged over 13. The so-called “social bubble” will be limited to four people, both indoors and outdoors and the sale of alcohol will be banned after 8pm.
Contrary to restrictions imposed in spring, schools will remain open and public transport will be normally functioning, while all outdoor events, such as concerts and festivals will be cancelled.
Throughout the year, Netherlands has followed a more “relaxed” approach to restrictions, in particular compared to its European neighbours. In recent weeks, the country has reported an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases, with more than 44,000 new cases recorded over the past week, and the country having one of the highest per capita infection rates worldwide.
“Too many people are not keeping to the rules,” Rutte said. “Then we have no choice but to take tougher measures to make sure that we can no longer meet each other,” he added.
The new measures are set to be in place for four weeks but they will be assessed in two weeks to examine their effectiveness. If no progress is made, tougher measures could follow.