The Netherlands' shopping streets were closed, and people's Christmas preparations were thrown into chaos, when the government initiated a lockdown on Sunday to restrict a predicted COVID-19 spike caused by the development of the omicron strain.
On Saturday evening, Prime Minister Mark Rutte ordered the sudden shutdown of all but the most necessary retailers, as well as restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums, and other public spaces, from Sunday until at least January 14.
Many Dutch citizens were taken aback by the news as they prepared for the Christmas and New Year holidays. On Saturday, many individuals raced out to stock up on gifts and food, as well as to get a last-minute haircut.
Coronavirus infections in the Netherlands have decreased to near-zero levels in recent weeks, thanks to the implementation of a nightly lockdown late last month. Cases of the omicron variation, on the other hand, have climbed fast since the beginning of December, and the strain is projected to become prevalent by the end of the year.
Lockdowns are being considered and implemented in many other EU states, such as Germany, Belgium, and Italy.