Dutch officials announced that the country will be relaxing some of its harsh COVID-19 restrictions, with gyms, and hair and beauty salons being allowed to open until 5pm from tomorrow onwards.
At today’s press conference, the country’s Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that non-essential businesses will be permitted to re-open on Saturday, despite a growing number of infections in the Netherlands.
“We are taking a big step and that also means we’re taking a big risk,” Rutte said.
Businesses and educational institutions that are reopening will still be subject to strict COVID-19 health rules that mandate the adoption of measures such as social distancing and masking.
Amid protests from those businesses that will have to remain closed, bars, restaurants, theaters, and cafés are not included in the new order and must remain closed until January 25. It was too soon to reopen all businesses, Prime Minister Rutte said.
Some restaurants in the Netherlands had already defied the country’s restrictions, which are among the toughest in Europe. Those in Valkenburg, in the south of the country, reopened early with the blessing of the city’s mayor, and numerous other municipalities have promised to follow suit in the coming days.
Dutch businesses have faced a strict lockdown since December amid rising COVID-19 cases. On Friday, the Netherlands saw a national daily record of more than 35,000 new infections, though health officials say hospitalization rates are declining.