AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -The Dutch government on Tuesday extended most pandemic lockdown restrictions including a nighttime curfew as Prime Minister Mark Rutte cited rising COVID-19 infection rates and hospitals near capacity.
“We have to see daily hospitalizations falling, then we’ll be over the peak of the third wave,” Rutte said at a press conference in The Hague. He said hopes that some measures could be eased on April 21 had proved illusory and they must remain in place until April 28 at the earliest.
Current measures in the Netherlands, which has seen 1.3 million coronavirus cases and more than 16,700 deaths, include the first nighttime curfew since World War Two and a ban on public gatherings of more than two people.
The Dutch National Institute for Health (RIVM) said on Tuesday new cases rose by 6% in the week through April 13 to 51,240, resuming an upward trend in place since January after a slight decline in early April.
Nearly 70% of Dutch intensive care beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients.
Opinion polls show support for lockdown measures waning, in particular a ban on outdoor dining spaces at restaurants and cafes. Hospitality associations and mayors from major cities have argued the ban has little point, citing large numbers of people gathering in parks.
“If the weather is getting a bit warmer, people will get together in the parks or next to the canals, so actually if you open the terraces it would be more controlled,” said bar owner Omar Abadi, 45, in Amsterdam.
As of April 4, roughly 12% of Dutch people had received at least one COVID-19 shot, according to Our World in Data.
(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Catherine Evans, William Maclean and Cynthia Osterman)