Netherlands Slightly Reopens After Europe’s Toughest Lockdown Amid Outrage
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
AMSTERDAM (Worthy News) – The Netherlands’ government pledged Tuesday to ease Europe’s strictest COVID-19 measures after mounting public pressure with protests and rioting in the streets.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, under fire for closing much of society, said cafes, bars, and restaurants could reopen until 10 pm, but only to patrons with health certificates.
Customers will be forced to show proof of vaccination or recent recovery from a coronavirus infection to gain entry, he explained.
Nightclubs will remain closed, and capacity at sporting and cultural events will be limited to 1,250 people for those with the health certificates.
The measures come despite experts doubting the latest lockdown since December 19 following previous restrictions.
Ahead of Tuesday’s announced partial reopening, researchers of the prestigious Dutch ‘Delft University of Technology’ also expressed concerns about required health certificates.
They concluded in a report that the “so-called ‘2G corona pass’ for the reopening of society is barely preventing new infections,” citing extensive research.
The partial reopening starting Wednesday follows massive rallies against “repression” in the Netherlands, known for its liberal, Christian, and Jewish traditions.
Additionally, hospitality sector employees were angry that they were kept in lockdown while sex workers, shops, gyms, and hairdressers could resume business on January 15.
Cafes in several cities briefly opened in defiance of the restrictions this month, and dozens of museums and theatres opened as beauty salons for a day in protest.
Public support for the strict measures has also waned steadily, polls show, with large demonstrations against the rules continuing despite a significant police presence.
Protest areas sometimes turned into a war zone, including in the port city of Rotterdam, where late last year, three people were injured as police fired shots at COVID-19 restrictions.
Rotterdam police said they were threatened and outnumbered by angry protestors.
Rutte told reporters Tuesday that the government realized the mounting anger in society amid reports of rising suicides among youngsters.
Health Minister Ernst Kuipers warned those protesting that the virus is “not the flu” but said relaxing the curbs was important.
“Living for longer with restrictive measures harms our health and our society,” he said.
Rutte agrees. The government, he stressed, was “consciously looking for the limits of what is possible, because of the great tensions and cries for help in recent days.”
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