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Restaurants to remain closed as Dutch ease Covid restrictions – Reuters

More businesses will open for the first time since strict orders were imposed in December

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has announced the country will ease some of its strict Covid restrictions, despite rising numbers of infections and amid protests from businesses that must remain closed.

Non-essential businesses such as gyms and hair and beauty salons will be able to open until 5 p.m. from Saturday, Rutte announced at a press conference on Friday.

“We are taking a big step and that also means taking a big risk,” said the prime minister.

Businesses and educational establishments that reopen will still be subject to strict Covid health rules which require the adoption of measures such as social distancing and masking.

Bars, restaurants, theaters and cafes are not included in the new order and must remain closed until January 25. Rutte said it was too early to reopen all businesses.

Dutch restaurants rebel against Covid rules

Prior to the press conference, some restaurants in the Netherlands had already defied the country’s restrictions, which are among the strictest in Europe. Those in Valkenburg, in the south of the country, reopened early with the blessing of the city’s mayor, and many 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. The Netherlands recorded a national daily record of more than 35,000 new infections on Friday, although health officials say hospitalization rates are falling.

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