Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Dutch impose tough new restrictions amid skyrocketing infections

AMSTERDAM (AP) – The Netherlands moved to tighter quarantines on Sunday, announced amid a surge in infections even before the country had recorded the first confirmed cases of a new, more highly hereditary variant of the omicron virus.

Bars, restaurants, minor shops, cinemas and theaters were among the public spaces that were forced to close between 5:00 pm and 5:00 am due to the new quarantine.

Wilko Clippens, manager of the Biessels café on the Grote Markt in Nijmegen, said the recent quarantine would eat up his savings even more.

“We’re going to keep all the staff. You know, they will pay their rent, their education. So yeah, it’s on us, ”he said. “So the money we saved in retirement is the money we pay staff and rent with.”

The restrictions came into effect hours after Health Minister Hugo de Jonge announced that at least 13 travelers who arrived at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport on Friday tested positive for the new variant. He urged other travelers who arrived last week from southern Africa to get tested.

“We’ve reached out to everyone… who traveled to southern Africa last week to inform local health authorities… to schedule a separate appointment for testing,” he said.

The Netherlands has seen a series of record-breaking infections every day in recent weeks, and earlier partial isolation did not seem to have much effect. Dutch hospitals warned that ICUs could be overcrowded by the end of the week. The Dutch government has ordered the postponement of all non-essential surgeries, such as hip replacements, to free up intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients.

De Jonge said he could not rule out additional restrictions ahead of Christmas.

Wilma van Kampen said she will adhere to the isolation regime and expressed hope that the situation will not worsen.

“I am a nurse. I know how people get sick. I see a lot of people suffering from COVID,” she said.

A large number of police gathered in the eastern city of Nijmegen earlier Sunday ahead of a banned protest against coronavirus measures. Police said they arrested or denied several people during checks on the roads leading into the city.

Just over a week ago, protests against the coronavirus in the port city of Rotterdam escalated into violence, prompting police to open fire on rioters who threw stones and fireworks at officers, destroyed police cars and set fire to city streets.

On Sunday in Nijmegen, Monique van Aken said she did not expect this isolation to be the last.

“I think this will happen all the time. It will change, and we must be ready for this, ”she said. “After this option, there will be new options.”

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Follow all AP pandemic stories at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

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