15 Nov, 2021 02:22 AM3 minutes to read
The Netherlands has entered a partial lockdown. Photo / Getty Images
The Netherlands has become the first western European country to go back into lockdown since summer, as the country is once again plagued by record new infections.
16,204 new cases were recorded on Friday, with the country’s death toll hitting 18,734. Just one day earlier, the nation reached a pandemic high of 16,287 infections.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the “absolutely unavoidable” three-week partial lockdown on Friday and said the Dutch healthcare system was struggling under the rapid influx of cases.
This is despite the Netherlands achieving a fully-vaccinated status of 69 per cent, trumping the European Union’s average of 65.8 per cent.
“Tonight we are bringing a very unpleasant message, with very unpleasant and far-reaching measures,” Rutte on Friday.
“The virus is everywhere and needs to combated everywhere. I want every Dutch citizen to be asking: ‘Can I do more? Can I do better?’
“We had hoped with the vaccines we wouldn’t have to do this, but we see the same situation all across Europe.”
The swath of new restrictions include an 8pm curfew on bars, restaurants and essential retail, with all non-essential retail and services ordered to shut by 6pm. Indoor gatherings have been limited to a maximum of four guests and employees have been told to work from home unless “absolutely unavoidable”.
Protests eruptWhile authorities are battling to get cases under control, the new restrictions have fuelled anti-lockdown sentiment, with protesters taking to the streets.
A 200-strong protest gathered at The Hague, where a peaceful gathering became violent after attendants were seen setting off flares and fireworks. Police were also forced to intervene, with reports a water cannon was used against the crowd.
15 people were also arrested in the city of Leeuwarden after protesters stormed the city’s central square. It’s believed people refused police directions to disperse, with fireworks and coloured flares causing mass disruptions.
Protesters in the Netherlands clashed with police after the government reimposed a partial lockdown to control a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases. pic.twitter.com/NbZSlEj2Mq
— DW News (@dwnews) November 13, 2021
Fourth wave warnings for EuropeThe Netherlands is just one of many European countries currently experiencing a fourth wave of new infections after restrictions were relaxed over the summer.
Germany’s pandemic-breaking influx of new cases had experts concerned their healthcare system would reach breaking point in weeks, with one epidemiologist predicting the country would re-enter another lockdown by December.
Elsewhere, rising cases also forced Denmark to backflip on their bold statement that the pandemic was “no longer a critical threat to society”. In early September they became the first nation in the European Union to lift all Covid restrictions, however last week saw them labelled as a cause of “grave concern” by the WHO.
WHO regional director Hans Kluge labelled Denmark as one of the 43 countries in his region who will likely see transmissions and deaths soar during the upcoming winter months.
“We are, once again, at the epicentre,” Kluge said in a statement.
“According to one reliable projection, if we stay on this trajectory, we could see another half a million Covid-19 deaths in Europe and Central Asia by the first of February next year.