Dutch government orders partial lockdown amid rising Covid cases

Caretaker Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has announced a three-week partial lockdown amid surging Covid-19 cases in the Netherlands.

he lockdown, which begins on Saturday night, is the first in Western Europe since a new wave of infections began surging across parts of the continent.

Under the lockdown, bars restaurants and supermarkets will have to close at 8pm, professional sports matches will be played in empty stadiums and people are being urged to work from home as much as possible.

Stores selling non-essential items will have to close at 6pm.

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Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“Tonight we have a very unpleasant message with very unpleasant and far-reaching decisions,” Mr Rutte said.

As Mr Rutte spoke, police in The Hague said they arrested a number of people protesting in a nearby street for setting off fireworks.

The Netherlands is not alone in taking measures to rein in soaring coronavirus infections.

Earlier on Friday, Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said his country will implement a lockdown for unvaccinated people in two hard-hit regions next week and looks poised to move forward with similar measures nationwide.

Starting on Monday, unvaccinated people in the regions of Upper Austria and Salzburg will only be allowed to leave home for specific necessary reasons, such as buying groceries or going to the doctor.

Meanwhile, Germany’s disease control centre is urging people to cancel or avoid large events and to reduce their contacts as the country’s coronavirus infection rate hits a string of new highs.

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