UK reports 82,886 new cases in huge weekly jump; Dominant Omicron in Ireland



Shops in the Netherlands were closed and people’s Christmas plans were in disarray as the country began a lockdown on Sunday aimed at limiting an expected outbreak of Covid-19 caused by the rise of the Omicron variant.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the sudden closure on Saturday evening, ordering the closure of all but the most essential stores, as well as restaurants, hairdressers, gymnasiums, museums and other public places from at least Sunday to January 14.

The news came as a shock to many Dutch people as they headed for Christmas and New Years, Reuters reports. Many people flocked to Saturday to stock up on gifts and food and to have their hair cut at the last minute.

Hospitality workers demanded compensation for lost income during the holiday season, while gym owners stressed the importance of exercise during a health crisis.

“Shutting down all the bars and restaurants in such an important month is incredibly painful and dramatic. We need compensation and an exit strategy, ”said the Dutch Hotel Services Association.

© Provided by The Guardian
Pedestrians pass through central Eindhoven, the Netherlands, on the eve of another Dutch Covid-19 lockdown. Photography: Nicolas Economou / NurPhoto / REX / Shutterstock

All schools will close a week earlier for the Christmas holidays on Monday and will remain closed until at least January 9, while households are advised not to receive more than two visitors and gatherings outside are also limited to a maximum of two.

Coronavirus infections in the Netherlands have fallen from record levels in recent weeks after an overnight lockdown was put in place late last month. But cases involving the Omicron variant have increased rapidly since early December, and the strain is expected to become dominant before the end of the year.

This will be a big problem for hospitals, which have been canceling regular care for weeks as they try to avoid running out of beds due to the high number of Covid patients in their wards.

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