The Dutch government on Wednesday recommended the first countrywide curfew since World War Two and a ban on flights from South Africa and Britain in its hardest moves yet to check the spread of coronavirus in the Netherlands. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the curfew, which is hugely expected to target new, more infectious variants of the disease, must be passed by parliament, which is set to debate measures against the coronavirus on Thursday.
The flight ban, which Rutte said will apply to all South American countries, will begin on Saturday. The curfew was expected to take effect this weekend, he said.
The curfew would allow only people with urgent needs to leave their homes between 8:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. local time, Rutte said. Exceptions include medical emergencies, people who need to be outdoors to do essential jobs and walking of pets on a leash. Violators can be fined 95 euros ($115).
The government said it will also expect all international travelers arriving by airplane or boat to submit proof of a second negative COVID-19 rapid test, taken just before departure. It had already required a negative test taken within 72 hours of travel. KLM, the Dutch subsidiary of Air France KLM, said that in response to the condition it will halt 270 weekly long-haul flights and an undetermined number of European flights to the Netherlands from Friday. There will be a check on the number of crew members also.
Schools and non-essential shops have already been closed since mid-December, following the closure of bars and restaurants two months prior that. They will remain shut until at least Feb. 9.