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Dutch streets deserted as snap Christmas COVID lockdown starts By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People do their Christmas purchasing earlier than the Dutch authorities’s anticipated announcement of a “strict” Christmas lockdown to curb the unfold of the Omicron coronavirus variant, within the metropolis centre of Nijmegen, Netherlands December 18, 2021. REUTE

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -Dutch city centres have been largely deserted on Sunday as the nation started a snap lockdown that, geared toward stemming an anticipated COVID-19 surge brought on by the fast-spreading Omicron variant, left individuals’s Christmas plans in disarray.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte introduced the shutdown on Saturday night, ordering the closure of all however important shops, as properly as eating places, hairdressers, gyms, museums and different public locations from Sunday till no less than Jan. 14.

In Rotterdam, police used a water cannon to disperse a gaggle of round 1,000 individuals who had gathered outdoors the town’s major soccer stadium, forward of a conflict between native workforce Feyenoord and bitter rivals Ajax Amsterdam.

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Several individuals have been held as fireworks and bottles have been thrown at police and on the Ajax workforce bus, information company ANP stated.

Spectators have been barred from Dutch sporting occasions for the reason that finish of November.

The new curbs, which additionally embody a ban on gatherings outdoors of greater than two individuals, have been sudden, and many individuals rushed out on Saturday to fill up on presents or get a last-minute festive haircut.

Hospitality employees demanded compensation for misplaced revenue over the vacation season.

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“Closing all bars and eating places in such an essential month is extremely painful and dramatic. We want compensation and an exit technique,” the Dutch affiliation for hospitality companies stated.

Dutch coronavirus infections have dropped from file ranges after a night-time lockdown got here into drive final month. But Omicron circumstances are growing quickly and the variant is anticipated to change into dominant earlier than the tip of the yr.

Hospitals have already been cancelling common operations for weeks as they attempt to keep away from working out of beds on account of excessive numbers of COVID-19 sufferers.

The authorities additionally stated on Saturday that it could speed up its booster vaccine programme. More than 85% of Dutch adults are double-vaccinated, fewer than 9% have had a booster shot, one of many lowest charges in western Europe.

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