The Dutch minister held an emergency speech this evening to announce a hard lockdown beginning tonight at midnight. Just like the speech in March earlier this year, it took place in his work office at the Binnenhof (nicknamed Torentje or “Little tower” – English Wikipedia).
…and because of this choice of location, it was much easier for protestors to make themselves heard, on live television, with whistling, shouting and general noisemaking. Oh well. Rutte did make mention of it halfway through his speech, pointing outside and saying “It is isn’t an innocent flu as some people outside here think”.
Hard lockdown unavoidable, says Dutch PM, ruling out foreign travel until March from dutchnews.nl (this one has a photo from the outside looking in at Mark Rutte as he gives his speech – an interesting view)
Here is a list of the most important rules, which take affect at midnight tonight and last until at least 19 January:
- non-essential stores are closed (some of the exceptions are supermarkets, pet stores, pharmacies, gas stations and banks)
- non-medical “contact” jobs are closed (hair stylists, massage parlors, nail salons, etc.) Medical “contact” jobs like dentists or physiotherapists are exempt.
- from Wednesday all schools (elementary through university) are closed with online education the norm. There are a few exceptions for exams or “vulnerable” students. Daycares are also closed, except for parents with vital jobs.
- only two guests are allowed per day (which the exception of December 24, 25 and 26 when you can have three guests per day). Groups outside can only consist of one household or of two persons total.
- the urgent advice is again “stay at home as much as possible” and “don’t travel overseas or book trips until at least 15 March”.
- museums, zoos, theaters and theme parks are closed. Libraries are also closed, although Rutte mentioned an exception for patrons to pick up and bring back reserved books or allow vulnerable youth to do their homework there. Whether or not the library offers this service is another thing.
- indoor gyms will close. Some activity is allowed outside but only in groups of two with 1.5 meters distance. Youth under 18 can still exercise in groups, however.
- The urgent advice of “work as much as possible from home” is still in effect.
At the moment the next press conference is scheduled for 12 January, when the government will discuss the next steps leading up to 19 January, the current end date for the hard lockdown.