‘Worse than we feared’: Dutch government extends riot-causing Covid-19 curfew over viral variant worries

A night-time curfew imposed in the Netherlands since last month will be extended until March 3 in an effort to limit the spread of Covid-19, including cases of the UK variant, the Dutch justice minister said on Monday.

The measures sparked big protests across the country, with Dutch police arresting more than 500 people across five nights of demonstrations after the nationwide 9pm curfew came in on January 23.

Announcing the curfew’s extension to next month, Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said the government’s scientific advisers had “told us that it’s turning out worse than we feared after all with the number of infections, hospitalizations and such.”

He said the team of experts had also warned of the “ever-higher rise of the much more infectious British variant, and advised us urgently to go ahead and continue with the curfew.”

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The curfew was set to expire on Wednesday and still could be lifted before March “if there is a reason to stop earlier,” Grapperhaus said.

The number of new cases of Covid-19 in the Netherlands has been decreasing since late December, with lockdown imposed since October, but the government has said the situation could change due to variants of the virus “gaining ground quickly.”

The country of 17 million people has recorded more than one million cases of the virus in total, with a further 2,273 reported on Monday, according to government data. Over 14,400 people have died there due to the disease.

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