The Netherlands will go into a strict lockdown over the Christmas and New Year period to try to contain the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Saturday.
Measures including the closure of all non-essential shops, restaurants, hairdressers and gyms will go into effect on Sunday and remain in place until January 14. All schools will be closed until January 9.
"The Netherlands is again shutting down. That is unavoidable because of the fifth wave that is coming at us with the Omicron variant," Rutte told a televised news conference.
Other measures include a recommendation that households receive no more than two visitors and that gatherings outside are also limited to a maximum of two people.
A failure to act now would likely lead to "an unmanageable situation in hospitals", which have already scaled back regular care to make space for COVID-19 patients, Rutte said.