The Netherlands’ coronavirus curfew is to be prolonged till March 15, caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated on Tuesday.
Some lockdown measures will be eased, however, in a bid to make the crisis more “bearable”.
“We’re on our way to better times,” Rutte stated in a televised press conference.
High school students will be able to return to classrooms for one day a week from March 1 however universities will stay closed.
Restricted numbers of people will be able to go to non-essential shops and hairdressers and others in “contact professions” will be allowed to return to work. Many businesses will remain closed till at least March 8.
“We’re at a time when we have to be ready to take a little bit more risk,” Rutte added.
It is part of a plan to ease a lockdown-weary nation out of restrictions whereas vaccination campaigns continue.
However with roughly 4,000 new COVID cases a day and the emergence of new more transmissible variants, many European nations are facing a tough balance.
The 9:00 pm to 4:30 am is coronavirus curfew sparked mass protests when it first came into effect. Last week, a court within the Hague stated the government had abused its emergency powers to impose it and ordered it to stop.
However, the government appealed and subsequently rushed laws via parliament to give the curfew a stronger legal backing.
Rutte introduced the changes to the lockdown after the nation’s public health body stated that COVID infections rose by 19 % in the past week in part due to extra testing.
Just under 800,000 individuals have received a first dose of the COVID vaccine within the Netherlands.
The lockdown easing comes ahead of a general election planned for March 17.