The Netherlands is one of the first Western European countries to bring back restrictions.
The Dutch government announced Tuesday it would reimpose restrictive measures to combat the rapid increase of COVID-19 infections.
From Friday, COVID passports will be mandatory for sports venues and so-called high-flow spaces, such as amusement parks and museums, and compulsory use could soon be broadened to workplaces. Face coverings will also become obligatory in indoor public spaces and for contact professions, and the government has urged people to work from home at least part-time. Social distancing will also come into effect again.
Dutch disease control and prevention agency RIVM reported 7,744 positive cases on Monday, with Sunday marking the highest number of infections since July.
The rise has resulted in a steady increase of COVID-19 patients in intensive care. “It won’t surprise anyone that we have a difficult message tonight. Infections and hospital admissions are rising fast,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Tuesday evening at a press conference.
With nearly 84 percent of the adult population vaccinated, outgoing Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said “the time is now” for the unvaccinated to get jabbed, urging those who have not yet had their vaccination to reconsider: “It is never too late to change your mind.”
The Netherlands — which had dispensed with the majority of its restrictive measures just two months ago — is one of the first Western European countries to bring back restrictions.
Booster shots will become available for those over 60, with a broader rollout planned for those who are younger at a later stage, the government said.
The Dutch government is exploring options to make COVID passports necessary in higher education and vocational colleges, but this measure would require a change in law and need parliamentary approval.