14 December 2021, by Victoria Séveno
At the press conference on Tuesday, December 14, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge announced that the current evening lockdown would remain in place in the Netherlands until (at least) January 14.
Primary schools to close a week earlier because of Omicron variant
While no new restrictions have been announced for the upcoming holidays, Rutte did confirm that primary schools and childcare services will be able to extend their Christmas holidays by one week in order to limit the spread of Omicron amongst children and members of staff.
This means schools will close their doors on December 17 instead of December 24 – they will be able to remain open on Monday and Tuesday (if absolutely necessary) in order to have time to make the necessary childcare arrangements for vulnerable children and children of key workers.
De Jonge announces acceleration of booster campaign
De Jonge also emphasised the importance of booster shots in the battle against the new Omicron variant. Earlier this week, the Dutch Health Minister had already announced plans to accelerate the Netherlands’ booster campaign, and revealed further details about what this will look like at Tuesday’s press conference.
Everyone over the age of 18 who is fully vaccinated will be able to book an appointment for their booster by the end of January at the latest. Instead of having to wait six months after their previous dose, members of the public can receive their booster after only three months.
The Dutch government has also launched a new campaign in order to reassure people who are hesitant to get the jab. From Tuesday, people can visit overvaccineren.nl to find answers to all their vaccine-related questions and alleviate their doubts about the health, safety, and long-term effects of the coronavirus vaccines.
Dutch government extends evening lockdown until January 14
At the last press conference, Rutte and De Jonge announced a tightening of the Dutch restrictions in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 and Omicron. The so-called evening lockdown rules were due to lift on December 19, just in time for the Christmas holidays, but the latest update confirms what many had already suspected: the current restrictions will remain in place throughout the festive season.
This means the following restrictions will remain in effect until (at least) January 14:
- Enforced opening times of 5am – 5pm for catering industry, cultural sector (i.e. cinemas, museums), non-essential shops, amateur sports, and other service providers (i.e.hairdressers, gyms)
- Enforced opening times of 5am – 8pm for essential shops (i.e. supermarkets, pharmacies)
- Maintain 1,5-metre distance – even in spaces where coronavirus certificates are mandatory (for flow locations and locations with fixed seating)
- Face masks mandatory in public indoor areas (including hospitals, airports, and public transport) – even in spaces where coronavirus certificates are mandatory (for flow locations and locations with fixed seating)
- Face masks mandatory in education from Group 6 / Year 5 (age nine) (exception applies in classrooms)
- Enforced finishing time of 5pm for events
- Coronavirus certificate system used for public venues and events
- Ensure proper ventilation in all indoor spaces
- If you’re showing symptoms then stay home and get tested
- Max. four household guests per day (and do a self-test before meeting friends / family)
- Limit travel as much as possible
- Work from home as much as possible
- Fixed seating mandatory in the catering industry
- No spectators at sporting events
- Max. 1.250 people per area at events (with fixed seating)
- In higher education, max. 75 people per room / space (excl. staff, does not apply to rooms used for exam purposes)
- If a member of a household is infected with coronavirus, all other members must also go into quarantine (regardless of vaccination status)
The government will reevaluate the situation in the new year, with the next press conference scheduled to take place in the week of January 10.