The Netherlands will relax some lockdown measures despite high Covid-19 infection rates driven by the Omicron variant, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Friday.
"We are taking a big step and that also means we're taking a big risk," Rutte told a televised press conference from The Hague.
Nonessential stores, hairdressers, beauty salons and other service providers will be allowed to reopen on Saturday for the first time since Dec. 19.
Rutte added that the uncertainties meant that bars, restaurants and cultural venues would have to remain closed until at least Jan. 25.
“In the next 10 days, we will look at exactly what we can learn from abroad and what we can also learn from here in the Netherlands,” Rutte said.
On Friday, the Netherlands Institute for Health announced a record high of more than 35,000 infections in 24 hours. Infections have continued to rise despite the latest lockdown measures.
“We have to learn to live with the virus, and so we need a long-term perspective,” Health Minister Ernst Kuipers said at the same news conference. “It is a common problem that we must solve together. Not only in The Hague, not only in the education sector, not only in healthcare, but as a society. With businesses, catering, culture, sports. Together, with all parties, we look for the best way to further open society and keep it open."