Dutch government eyes new Covid-19 curbs despite riots

THE HAGUE (AFP) – The Netherlands could announce tougher Covid-19 restrictions this week, just days after four nights of riots against the existing partial lockdown, the country’s health minister said on Wednesday (Nov 24).

A “gloomy and worrisome” rise in cases meant a Cabinet meeting over coronavirus measures scheduled for Dec 3 had been brought forward by a week, said Health Minister Hugo de Jonge.

Ministers will consider advice from the Dutch outbreak management team before Prime Minister Mark Rutte announces the decisions in a press conference, Mr de Jonge added.

He said he would not anticipate what new curbs were under consideration, but Dutch media has reported they could include school closures as infections soar, particularly among children.

New measures risk inflaming an already tense situation in the Netherlands after police fired bullets and wounded five people during violent riots in Rotterdam last Friday.

The trouble spread to The Hague on Saturday, with protesters hurling fireworks and stones at police and burning bikes, and to other cities including Groningen in the north on Sunday and Monday.

In total, 173 people were arrested and at least 12 people injured nationwide.

Mr Rutte’s last two coronavirus press conferences have also seen demonstrators clash with police in The Hague outside government ministries.

Coronavirus curbs brought in on Nov 13 included bars, restaurants, cafes and supermarkets closing at 8pm, sports matches being played behind closed doors, and limits on visitors to people’s homes.

The government warned earlier this week of “lockdown-like” measures if people did not start sticking to the rules, with new cases running at more than 20,000 a day.

It is also planning to introduce so-called “2G measures” that would bar unvaccinated people from bars and cafes.

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