Netherlands set to relax strict lockdown from Saturday

Netherlands set to relax strict lockdown from Saturday
A nearly-empty shopping street in the Netherlands. Credit: Belga

The Netherlands is set to relax its current strict lockdown measures, as the country will reportedly allow non-essential shops to partially open again from Saturday.

While the culture and hospitality sectors will likely remain closed for the time being, non-essential shops and contact professions (such as hairdressers) will be allowed to reopen, but only by appointment.

These relaxations are part of the advice of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) group of experts, and it is expected to be approved by the Dutch Government on Friday, various local media reported, based on government sources.

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On Wednesday, however, Dutch Health Minister Ernst Kuipers already implied that no major relaxations should be expected, given the high number of infections in the country.

But in the meantime, the social pressure to reopen sectors such as retail, sports and hospitality has increased enormously in recent weeks. Several stores opened to protest the measures across the country last weekend, and one week earlier, nearly 10,000 people showed up at an unauthorised demonstration in Amsterdam.

The Dutch lockdown has been in place since 19 December, with non-essential shops and the hospitality industry closed since then. Dutch people are also limited to two guests per day at home, and outside there is a group limit of two people.

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