Dutch order bars, restaurants closed over pandemic fears

FILE – In this Monday, March 23, 2020 file photo, a cyclist takes images of a barricaded backroad used by locals on the Netherlands border with Belgium between Chaam, southern Netherlands, and Meerle, Northern Belgium. European Union countries are set to adopt a common traffic light system to coordinate traveling across the 27-nation bloc, but a return to a full freedom of movement in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic remains far from reach. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch government decided to close bars and restaurants as of Wednesday to counter the sustained surge in coronavirus cases across the nation.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the nation needed to move a step closer to a full lockdown because few other countries in Europe saw such an increase in case as the Netherlands.

In the week ending Tuesday, the new cases stood at 43,903 in the nation of 17.3 million, an increase of some 60% over the preceding week. People ending up in the intensive care units shot up to 192 from 121, and coronavirus deaths reached 150 compared to 89 the week earlier. The Amsterdam and Rotterdam regions are the current hotbeds of the virus in the Netherlands.

To make sure that revelers unable to go to bars wouldn’t party at home, the government also banned the sale of alcohol after 8 p.m.

The measures come into effect Wednesday evening.

In additional measures, the government said that any household would be able to receive no more than three guests per day. Public transport travel should be limited as much as possible.

The official death toll from the virus in the Netherlands is 6,587.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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