AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – A pandemic advisory panel in the Netherlands on Thursday recommended imposing western Europe’s first partial lockdown since the summer, putting pressure on the government to take unpopular action to fight a COVID-19 surge.
Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s cabinet is expected to decide on Friday on measures following the recommendation of the Outbreak Management Team, broadcaster NOS reported.
The government often follows the expert panel’s recommendations.
Steps under consideration include cancelling events, closing theatres and cinemas, and earlier closing times for cafes and restaurants, the NOS report said. Schools would remain open.
After a partial lockdown of around two weeks, entrance to public places should be limited to people who have been fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from a coronavirus infection, according to the advice.
Even as infections spike to record levels, many developed countries have taken the view vaccine rollouts mean lockdowns are unnecessary.
Britain is relying on booster shots to increase immunity and to try to avoid overwhelming its healthcare system.
The Netherlands has so far provided booster shots to a small group of people with weak immune systems. It will start offering them to people aged 80 years and older in December, while extra shots will eventually be available for anyone older than 60.
Despite an adult vaccination rate nearing 85%, hospitals in parts of the Netherlands have been forced to scale back https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/dutch-hospitals-urge-new-measures-covid-19-cases-near-record-2021-11-09 regular care to treat COVID-19 patients.
Last month, roughly 56% of Dutch COVID-19 patients in hospitals and 70% of those in intensive care were unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated.
Unvaccinated COVID-19 patients in Dutch hospitals had a median age of 59, compared to 77 years for vaccinated patients, data provided by the Netherlands’ Institute for Health (RIVM) showed.
Last week, the Netherlands re-introduced masks and expanded the list of venues that require a “corona pass” that demonstrates vaccination or a negative test result, to gain access.
New coronavirus infections in the country of 17.5 million have roughly doubled in the last week to more than 400 per 100,000 inhabitants, and are as high as in the worst weeks of December last year.
(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch and Bart Meijer; Editing by Peter Graff, Gareth Jones and Barbara Lewis)