The Dutch are bracing for further Covid curbs after riots.
On Friday, the Netherlands’ partial lockdown will be tightened to combat rising coronavirus cases, as police prepare for probable new rioting over the restrictions.
At a press conference at 1800 GMT, Prime Minister Mark Rutte is likely to unveil new anti-Covid measures, which could include closing bars, restaurants, and non-essential shops at 5pm.
After four nights of turmoil around the Netherlands, including in the port city of Rotterdam, where five rioters were shot by police, new restrictions risk inflaming an already volatile situation.
“We are keeping our eyes and ears open and are prepared,” Gijs van Nimwegen, a Rotterdam police spokeswoman, told AFP.
“We hope Rotterdam and the rest of the Netherlands remain quiet.”
As wards fill with Covid patients, Dutch hospitals have warned of significant bed shortages and operations being canceled.
In September, the Netherlands eased most restrictions, but was compelled to reapply them when the number of cases reached new highs.
During the prime minister’s last two Covid press appearances, protests erupted in The Hague, with police using water cannon to disperse demonstrators.
The administration pushed back the latest news conference from December 3 to December 2 because it needed to take immediate action, according to the government.
Rutte is set to announce the early closing of stores and caterers, according to Dutch media, just two weeks after the government ordered them to close at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively.
Despite requests to close schools a few weeks before the Christmas holidays, schools were anticipated to remain open, with the highest increase in cases occurring among children aged 12 and under.
According to reports, health experts from the Dutch Outbreak Management Team feared that reopening schools, as was done at the outset of the pandemic, would be dangerous to children.
Citizens have already been advised not to have more than four visitors and to work from home.
For the second year in a row, football matches have been closed to the public, and traditional fireworks have been forbidden.
Meanwhile, under so-called “2G regulations,” the government plans to restrict unvaccinated persons from pubs and restaurants.
Last Friday’s violent riots in Rotterdam were ignited by an anti-2G protest, during which five individuals were shot by police and a police car was set on fire.
On Saturday, protestors threw fireworks at police in The Hague, and on Sunday and Monday, the unrest extended to neighboring cities, including Groningen in the north.
At least 173 people have been arrested around the country.
Covid has claimed the lives of 61 people in the Netherlands, according to police. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.