Dutch PM orders 'partial lockdown', bars and cafes to close
The Netherlands will go into "partial lockdown" to curb one of Europe's biggest coronavirus surges, with all bars, cafes and restaurants to close, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Tuesday.
After months of refusing to make the wearing of masks compulsory, Rutte finally ordered that non-medical face coverings must also be worn in all indoor spaces by people aged over 13.
The sale of alcohol will also be banned after 8pm (1800 GMT) in a bid to reduce the social contacts that have led to the rise in Covid-19 cases, Rutte said of the steps that will take effect on Wednesday.
"We are going into a partial lockdown," Rutte told a televised press conference.
"It hurts, but it's the only way. We have to be stricter."
Dutch health authorities on Wednesday reported a daily record of 7,393 new coronavirus infections, with 43,903 new cases over the past week and 150 deaths.
The Netherlands currently has the third highest rate of new infections per 100,000 people in Europe over the last 14 days, behind only the Czech Republic and Belgium, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Rutte's government for many months pursued an "intelligent lockdown" policy that was far more relaxed than its European neighbours, but has scrambled to control the second wave of the disease.