Dutch parliament interrupts its summer holiday as Covid cases soar

'Two weeks ago all signals were on green. But now there's a reason to intervene', health minister says

Due to a surge in Covid infections in the Netherlands, all restaurants must be closed from midnight to 6am. EPA
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The Dutch Parliament is being recalled from its summer recess to tackle a new spike in coronavirus cases caused by the highly-contagious delta variant.

A special session of parliament will be held on Wednesday, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said as the country also tightened a number of its coronavirus lockdown rules.

Across Europe, countries are handling rising cases and in France, the delta variant is now the dominant strain.

There were 10,345 new infections recorded in the Netherlands between Friday and Saturday, compared to just under 7,000 a day earlier and 1,100 on Saturday of the previous week.

“Two weeks ago all signals were on green. But now there's a reason to intervene. This is a result of the rapid spread of the delta variant in Europe and the Netherlands,” Mr de Jonge said.

“This is unprecedented. The previous week we sat at around 500 new cases per day. Today there are 7,000 new infections,” he added.

The delta variant has become the dominant strain in France, and Catalonia, in Spain, is reimposing virus restrictions in the face of rising delta infections.

On Saturday as some restrictions were reimposed in the Netherlands, nightclubs were ordered to close, large spectator events are again banned and restaurants must close at midnight. Events lasting longer than 24 hours have been put on ice.

“We have to slow down the rapid spread of the virus,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte had warned on Friday.

“There is a dark cloud in front of the sun. At the moment infection rates are rocketing, mainly because of the highly-infectious Delta variant,” Mr Rutte added.

“If we don't do something the tempo of infections are simply going to rise. It's clear that we need to nip the rapid spread of the virus in the bud.”

The Netherlands had lifted almost all coronavirus measures as of June 26. About 80 per cent of the population have received at least one vaccine jab, while about 50 per cent received two, Mr de Jonge said.

Most of the infections were among younger people, he added.

Updated: July 10, 2021, 11:26 PM