29th May 2022

Dutch mayors protest strict lockdown measures

  • Bars, restaurants, museums, and cultural centres have remained closed, while some shops reopened last week (Photo: Mitchel Lensink)
Listen to article

Strict lockdown measures in the Netherlands have pushed a group of 30 mayors to press the national government for a loosening of restrictions.

In an open letter published in De Volkskrant newspaper on Thursday (20 January), they write that a long-term perspective is needed, saying that the national government has supplanted all other problems and interest in society to keep the infection rate low.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"That is acceptable for a short period, but not after two years," they said.

Since December, when the more infectious Omicron variant led to record-high infection rates, the Netherlands has been in a hard lockdown.

Several other countries in Europe have registered a record number of Covid-19 infections, with Germany, France, and Italy reporting almost 800,000 cases on Tuesday.

But restrictions look increasingly ineffective, and with Omicron seeming less deadly, most EU member states have decided to keep large parts of the economy at least partly open.

Not so in the Netherlands, which maintains among the toughest Covid regimes in the world.

This week, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) reported a record number of 42,000 cases.

But the number of Covid patients in hospitals have dropped below 1,200, down from 2,850 in December.

Last week, some stores were allowed to reopen, but bars, restaurants, museums, and cultural centres have remained closed in the Netherlands.

Some museums have reopened as yoga or hairdressers' studios in protest this week.

A leading centre for public debate in Amsterdam has registered itself as a religious community, which are exempt from tough restrictions.

"Municipal lawyers are now working overtime to find out whether a yoga studio in a museum or a hair salon in a theatre should be allowed or banned under national emergency legislation," the mayors wrote.

The signatories include all the mayors of the top 10 biggest cities, including Femke Halsema, the mayor of Amsterdam.

They wrote most of them will continue to enforce cabinet measures but ask the cabinet to provide restaurants, bars, and cultural institutions with a perspective on reopening.

"We don't want to encourage further chaos, nor do we want to worsen the situation by unequally favouring one industry over the other," they said.

But they warned against what they described as a "repressive" governing style that has pitched citizens and leaders against each other.

And they asked the government to make a proportional trade-off between health effects and "people's private lives and the social and economic fabric of society."

WHO: Omicron to infect over half of Europeans in two months

The World Health Organization said Omicron is likely to infect more than half of the population in Europe within the next two months, threatening healthcare systems. It warned that it is too early to consider Covid as an endemic virus.

Orbán's new state of emergency under fire

Hungary's premier Viktor Orbán declared a state of emergency due to the war in neighbouring Ukraine hours after pushing a constitutional amendment through parliament, where two-thirds of MPs are controlled by his Fidesz party, allowing his government special powers.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us