Dutch to reopen schools despite high infection rates

The government stressed that hospital admissions were down
considerably since the country went into a lockdown in December, which included
schools closing a week earlier than planned for winter holidays.

“This is good news for students and it’s important for
their development and their mental well-being that they can go to school,”
Education Minister Arie Slob said at a press conference.

Vocational schools and universities will not reopen, but
instead have online classes until at least Jan 17.

Last week the Dutch health authorities said Omicron has
become the dominant variant in the country. Infections have dropped somewhat from
record levels seen in November but remain high with more than 14,000 new cases
recorded in the past 24 hours.

“Unfortunately, despite our strict measures we are
seeing a rise in infections and that means we are concerned about what will
happen in the weeks ahead,” Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said.

On Dec 19 the Netherlands closed all but essential shops as
well as restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums and other public places. A ban
remains in place on gatherings outside of more than two people. The measures
will be reassessed on Jan 14.

More than 85% of Dutch adults are vaccinated, but the
country’s booster campaign was slow to ramp up. As of Wednesday just over 24%
of adults have had a booster, though De Jonge said the percentage may double by
the end of this week.

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