Covid-19 panel advises 1st lockdown in Western Europe since summer

A pandemic advisory panel has advised the Dutch government to impose nationwide lockdown restrictions, the first of their kind in western Europe since the summer, as Covid-19 cases soar in the Netherlands.

The Dutch Outbreak Management Team (OMT) has recommended a two-week partial lockdown, according to local media. Broadcaster NOS says caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s cabinet is expected to take a decision on the advice on Friday.

The steps reportedly under consideration don’t include closing schools, but would involve cancelling events, as well as closing theatres and cinemas. Cafes and restaurants would also be told to restrict their opening hours.  

Following the proposed two-week lockdown, entrance to public places would be limited to people with a vaccination QR code or those who have recently recovered from the virus. 

News of the panel’s advice comes as the Netherlands sees a spike in Covid-19 cases, with many hospitals overwhelmed by the volume of patients. October’s data showed that 70% of those in intensive care were unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated. The median age of unvaccinated people in hospital was just 59, compared to 77 years for vaccinated patients. 

Dutch officials have already reintroduced masks and expanded the list of venues that require a Covid-19 pass to gain access. 

More than 84% of over-18s across the country have been given two shots against the virus, according to government data.