Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the introduction of a hard lockdown in the country from December 19 to January 14 amid the rapid spread of the Omicron strain, NL Times reported.
"Omicron is spreading even faster than we feared, so we must intervene now," Rutte said at a press conference.
Jaap van Dissel, director of the Netherlands' National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, said that the first discovered sample of Omicron was taken on November 19 and will become the dominant variant in the country by New Year.
All public events will be banned in the country from Sunday, all service enterprises, gyms, cinemas, museums, theaters, and concert halls will be closed. Christmas markets are also due to close; the work of people in non-medical professions associated with close contacts, such as hairdressers and beauticians, is prohibited; Sports competitions will be held with empty stands.
Only stores selling essential goods will remain open to visitors. Catering and trade-in non-essential goods can be carried out and delivered.
Schools and higher educational institutions are closed as well, the decision on their further work will be made in early January; kindergartens will be open for children up to 4 years old.
The residents of the Netherlands are advised to maintain social distance and avoid contact as much as possible: leave the house as little as possible, receive no more than two guests over 13 years old per day, and not visit more than one house.
During Christmas and New Year, these restrictions will be slightly softer - no more than four guests will be accepted. On the street, people over 13 years old from different households are prohibited from gathering in groups of more than two people, on Christmas and New Year - no more than four people.
Over 70% of the Dutch population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. On Friday, 15 thousand new cases of infection were detected in the country.