Slowing the spread of the Omicron variant: lockdown in the Netherlands
It has become clear in the past week that the Omicron variant is spreading very rapidly in the Netherlands too. The Outbreak Management Team (OMT) expects that this variant will be the dominant variant in the Netherlands by the end of December.
This is sooner than previously expected. This rapid increase in infections means the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals and ICUs will rise further before the end of the year. It is therefore looking increasingly likely that the healthcare system will become overburdened in January. We all want hospital and GP care to be available when we need it. The spread of the Omicron variant must be slowed as soon as possible in order to ensure healthcare services remain available to all. This is why the government has decided that the Netherlands will go into lockdown from Sunday 19 December until at least Friday 14 January 2022.
The Omicron variant is relatively new and many factors are therefore uncertain. Despite these uncertainties, the modelling experts at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) were able to calculate how fast the virus can spread in different circumstances. These calculations show that the measures already in place are not sufficient to ensure the pressure on hospitals and care homes remains manageable.
Measures and urgent advice applicable from Sunday 19 December 2021
- Everyone should stay at home as much as possible and avoid busy places.
- Always stay 1.5 metres apart.
- Receive no more than 2 visitors aged 13 and over per day. On 24, 25 and 26 December and on 31 December and 1 January the maximum number of visitors aged 13 and over is 4 per day.
- Visit no more than 1 household a day.
- The maximum group size outdoors for people aged 13 and over is 2 people. There can be more than 2 people in a group if everyone in the group lives at the same address.
- Educational institutions and out-of-school care (BSO) are closed until at least 9 January 2022. There are some exceptions. On 3 January the government will decide in what form education will resume from 10 January.
- All hospitality venues are closed, except for delivery and takeaway.
- All non-essential shops are closed, except for click and collect and returns.
- Essential shops, such as supermarkets and chemists, can open until 20.00. Face masks must be worn. The maximum number of shoppers is one per 5 square metres.
- Certain locations, such as petrol stations, pharmacies, libraries, driving schools, notaries’ offices and lawyers’ offices can open for their normal hours.
- All locations where non-medical contact-based professions are carried out, such as hairdressers and beauty salons, are closed.
- Cinemas, museums, theatres and concert venues are closed.
- All indoor sports facilities are closed, except for swimming lessons. Outdoor sports facilities can open for all ages between 05.00 and 17.00. People aged 18 and over can engage in sports outdoors, alone or in groups of 2. They must stay 1.5 metres apart. Children and teenagers aged 17 and under can play sports outdoors and can take part in matches and competitions within their own club.
- Events are not permitted, except for funerals (no more than 100 people), weekly markets selling groceries, and professional sports matches and competitions (no spectators).
Check also the overview of basic rules, measures, conditions and exceptions.
The new measures are in addition to the measures and advice that already apply to everyone in the Netherlands, such as following the basic rules to combat the spread of coronavirus, wearing a face mask where required, doing a self-test before visiting others and working from home. People aged 70 and over are still advised to limit their contacts as much as possible, including with children under 12. If they do have interactions with children, they should take care to keep a 1.5-metre distance.
Business owners, companies and workers can make use of the financial support package that has recently been extended.
For more information check the website of the Dutch government.