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Netherlands extends coronavirus curfew to March 15

Christian Fernsby |
In what he called a "calculated risk," demissionary Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced relaxations for some coronavirus measures on Tuesday, but extended the country's COVID-19 curfew until March 15.

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We are on our way to better times, a step-by-step opening of our society," Rutte at a press conference. "But for now, we are still in a difficult phase. The third wave is inevitable, according to experts the figures are already rising. That's the reality."

"We are now entering a phase in which we must be prepared to take a little bit of risk," Rutte continued. "It must be sustainable. That means that we want to make a few things possible under certain conditions."

The relaxations include the partial opening of secondary education; the reopening of contact professions such as hairdressers with the exception of sex workers; limited shopping by appointment from March 3; and an extension of the age limit for outdoor sports from 18 to 27 years, also from March 3.

The other measures, such as the curfew and the one person per day limit to home visits, will remain in effect until March 15. The rules for the period after March 15 are scheduled to be announced on March 8.

The Netherlands has been under a mandatory curfew -- from 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. local time -- since Jan. 23.

Last Tuesday, the curfew almost had to be lifted after the District Court of The Hague ruled that the mandatory curfew was improper and must end immediately. Hours later, a Dutch appeals court agreed to the government's request, overturned the ruling and maintained the curfew until further verdict.

According to Rutte, the relaxations are only possible if everyone adheres to the basic measures, such as washing hands, working from home as much as possible and wearing face masks where necessary. "With extra space comes extra responsibility," Rutte said. "Your behavior matters."

Earlier on Tuesday, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) announced that in the week between Feb. 17 and Feb. 23 a total of 29,977 people in the Netherlands tested positive for COVID-19. This is an increase of nearly 19 percent compared to the week before.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, 255 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 73 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Tuesday.

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