In the Netherlands, stricter restrictions have come into force due to record Covid cases and concerns about the new Omicron variant.
For at least the next three weeks, restaurants and cultural institutions such as cafes, museums and cinemas must close at 5:00 p.m. local time (4:00 p.m. GMT).
Authorities consider the measures to be crucial in keeping the country’s hospitals safe from congestion.
Around 61 people are currently being tested on the new variant.
They all recently arrived on two KLM flights from South Africa, where Omicron was discovered earlier this month. Passengers tested positive for Covid-19 and have been quarantined at a hotel near Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport while they undergo further tests, Dutch officials said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has described the variant as “worrying”, with early indications of a higher risk of reinfection.
A number of countries around the world have now banned flights to and from South Africa and several neighboring countries.
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Earlier this month, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced three weeks of restrictions on shops, sports and restaurants.
In the Netherlands there is a lack of intensive care beds, operations are canceled and hundreds of people die of Covid every week, reports Anna Holligan from the BBC in The Hague.
More than 22,000 new daily cases were reported on Friday, and the new rules are set to bring the record-high infection rate under control, our correspondent says.
The Dutch government has published the full list of restrictions stating:
Shops that are not strictly necessary must be closed between 5:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. local time
The 5:00 p.m. closure applies to cinemas, theaters and saunas as well as “contact professions”
Supermarkets, pharmacies and wholesalers must be closed between 8:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
Indoor and outdoor sports facilities must close at 5:00 p.m.
But evening training sessions and sports games for professional athletes are allowed to continue
A maximum of four guests over the age of 13 are allowed in people’s homes
As many people as possible should work from home
Kindergartens, schools and universities across the country will remain open during the lockdown.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets shortly after the government announced the lockdown.
In The Hague, police used water cannons to disperse the crowd.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Dutch gastronomy told the public broadcaster NOS that the government had “crossed a line”.
There have been nearly 20,000 confirmed Covid-related deaths in the Netherlands since the pandemic began.