The Netherlands return measures as Covid cases jump

Photo: EPA Mark Rutte

The Dutch government has reintroduced some measures to contain Covid-19 after a spike in new cases, particularly among young people. PM Mark Rutte said that bars, cafes and restaurants will have to close at midnight again as of this weekend and for much of the summer, while dancing clubs will have to close at all.

Furthermore, festivals spread over several days would be cancelled and large public gatherings will be restricted to smaller groups, Rutte said. On top of the closures, social distancing will also be reinforced.

The decisions come at an inopportune moment, since the summer had long been considered a season when people would be able to relax and enjoy their vacations with a sense of normality that they had not seen for two years. “Everything pointed toward a good summer and we still hope for this, but a cloud has darkened the sun,” Rutte said.

"Partly because of the Delta variant, infections are rising very fast," he pointed out. "Our goal is to rein in the virus, protect the vulnerable groups and make sure the healthcare system is not overrun." The measures entered into effect on Saturday and are expected to last until 13 August.

The decisions followed a huge increase in new infections, that reached a level not seen since early May. Daily positive tests in the Netherlands rose to almost 7,000, up from barely 1,000 a few weeks ago. Positive tests have specifically increased among the young, raising questions whether a system whereby youngsters had to test before entering a club has worked. But so far, the new spike in infections has not led to an increase of Covid-19 patients in hospitals.

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