Dutch experts recommend western Europe's first lockdown since summer

Dutch Experts Recommend Western Europe's First Lockdown Since Summer
Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte's government is expected to take a decision on Friday on new measures. Photo: Getty Images
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Thomson Reuters

The main Dutch pandemic expert advisory panel recommended on Thursday imposing Western Europe's first partial lockdown since the summer, putting pressure on the government to take drastic and unpopular action to fight a Covid-19 surge.

Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte's government is expected to take a decision on Friday on new measures following the recommendation of the Outbreak Management Team, a panel of experts, broadcaster NOS reported.


Among measures under consideration were the cancellation of events, closing theatres and cinemas, and earlier closing times for cafes and restaurants, the NOS report said. Schools would remain open.

The government often, but not always, follows the panel's recommendations.


Lockdown has been considered unthinkable in many developed countries since vaccines were widely rolled out, even as infections have spiked to records. Countries such as Britain are relying on vaccine booster shots to increase immunity and avoid overwhelming their healthcare systems over the winter.

The Netherlands has so far provided booster shots only to a small group of people with weak immune systems.


Despite an adult vaccinate rate nearing 85%, hospitals in parts of the Netherlands have been forced to scale back regular care to treat coronavirus patients.

Last week, the Netherlands re-introduced masks and expanded the list of venues that require a so-called "corona pass", which demonstrates vaccination or a negative test result, to gain access.

The Netherlands' Institute for Health (RIVM) on Tuesday reported weekly cases were up 45% to 76,790, or more than 400 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Danish restrictions

Meanwhile, Denmark will impose self-isolation requirements on travellers from Singapore, its embassy in the city-state said on Thursday, following a surge in Covid-19 infections.


Singapore was removed this week from a European Union list of non-EU countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted.

"Singapore is now considered a high risk country for travel to Europe," the embassy of Denmark in Singapore posted on Facebook. The EU's safe list of countries is reviewed every two weeks and is not legally binding on member nations.

Last month, the United States advised citizens against travel to Singapore, raising the alert level to its highest. Singapore detected 3,481 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. But most of its recent new cases are asymptomatic or mild, with 85% of the 5.45 million population vaccinated. - Reuters

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