The Netherlands Is Reopening After Lockdowns That Had Brothels Open, Restaurants Closed

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Declining COVID ICU admissions and deaths, combined with protests, have put  Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte in a position where he’s reopening the country after imposing some of Europe’s toughest restrictions. The new rules that will reopen bars, restaurants and museums take effect Wednesday.

Dutch media outlets are crediting Rutte’s moves to pressure from the catering and cultural sectors (the van Gogh museum recently turned into a nail salon as a joke so it could re-open after Rutte reduced restrictions on hair salons, gyms, and brothels) after a “virtual lockdown” was imposed just before Christmas in response to Omicron in a country where the vaccination rate is over 90%.

“The Netherlands has missed you,” Rutte told citizens this week at a news conference.

“Today we are taking a big step to further unlock the Netherlands. That feels contradictory while the contamination figures are going through the roof, and we have to be clear that we are taking a risk,” he added.

Dutch Health Minister Ernst Kuipers told citizens the Omicron is “not the flu” and made sure to tell these same citizens that the situation remained “sensitive,” but agreed that it was time to call off the restrictions.

“Living for longer with restrictive measures harms our health and our society,” he said.

And so Wednesday, restaurants and bars reopen — but they’ll still need to close at 10 p.m. — and there will still be vaccine passport requirements, customers will need to wear masks when not seated, and there will be capacity limits.

Soccer matches will also allow fans to return — with capacity limits — and the schools will cut back on restrictions that had classrooms closing if there were three or more cases.

It was quite a decision for Rutte to reopen bars and cafes, especially when brothels have been open since January 15. The government noted that brothels had to close at 5 p.m. and people had to stay 1.5 meters apart. It’s unclear how the sex workers handled business under such restrictions.

What are the consequences of the restrictions that the Dutch have had to go through?

“In the Netherlands, the damage from these lockdowns has become increasingly evident. In the government’s most recent press conference, new health minister Ernst Kuipers admitted that two-thirds of young people are suffering from loneliness,” Dutch writer Senay Boztas reported this week. “Even since the November partial lockdown, the SCP, a social and cultural government think tank, has found that psychological wellbeing had dropped, particularly among the young.”

Left without jobs in an industry that operates on youth, Boztas writes that many Dutch youth have moved on.

“Thousands of people working in the hospitality and culture sectors have simply given up and looked for work elsewhere,” Boztas notes. “Many will be in coronavirus quarantine, after coming into contact with someone who has been infected. And for those who do want to return, it won’t simply be a matter of turning up to work the day after an announcement is made.”


Written by Joe Kinsey

Joe Kinsey is the Senior Director of Content of OutKick and the editor of the Morning Screencaps column that examines a variety of stories taking place in real America.

Kinsey is also the founder of OutKick’s Thursday Night Mowing League, America’s largest virtual mowing league.

Kinsey graduated from University of Toledo.


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