December 14, 2020
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was expected to announce a tough month-long lockdown on Monday evening, including the closing of schools and shops, according to broadcasters NOS and RTL, as his government tries to slow soaring COVID-19 infections.
Rutte held emergency meetings on Monday about the rapid rise of infections and took the unusual step of inviting the heads of all political parties in parliament to join the talks.
He was expected to announce the tighter lockdown measures in a rare television address to the country, broadcast from his office at 1900 local time (1800GMT).
NOS and RTL cited government sources as saying that all schools and non-essential shops would be closed until Jan. 19.
This would make the lockdown stricter than the one imposed during the first COVID-19 wave between March and May, when schools were closed but shops could open.
New coronavirus infections in the country of 17 million jumped by almost 10,000 in the 24 hours through Sunday morning, data released by national health authorities showed, the biggest rise in more than six weeks.
The Netherlands has recorded more than 600,000 cases and 10,000 deaths during the coronavirus pandemic.
Other public buildings, such as museums, cinemas and zoos, will also be closed, NOS reported, along with day-care centres and barber shops.
Despite restrictions, shopping districts across the Netherlands have been crowded for weeks, with a spike in infections after the Dec. 5 gift-giving celebrations marking the birthday of Saint Nicholas.
(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch and Bart Meijer; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Hugh Lawson)