Restaurants to remain closed as Netherlands eases Covid restrictions – Action News Now

Other businesses to open for the first time since strict orders were imposed in December

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has announced that the country will ease some of its strict Covid restrictions despite rising infections and protests from businesses that must remain closed.

Non-essential businesses such as gyms, hair and beauty salons will be open from Saturday until 5 p.m., Rutte announced at a press conference on Friday.

“We’re taking a big step, which also means we’re taking a big risk,” said the Prime Minister.

Businesses and educational institutions that reopen will still be subject to strict Covid health rules that call for measures such as social distancing and mask wearing.

Bars, restaurants, theatres and cafes are excluded from the new order and must remain closed until January 25. Rutte said it was too early to reopen all businesses.

Ahead of the press conference, some restaurants in the Netherlands had flouted the country’s restrictions, one of the strictest in Europe. Residents of Valkenburg in the south of the country reopened ahead of schedule with the blessing of the city’s mayor, and many other cities have pledged to follow suit in the coming days.

Dutch businesses have been facing strict lockdowns since December due to rising Covid-19 cases. The country’s daily new infections surpassed 35,000 on Friday, though health officials said hospitalizations were falling.

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