The Netherlands are set to announce strict anti-coronavirus measures ahead of Christmas including possibly closing all non-essential shops, theatres, museums and amusement parks, reports said Monday.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will speak to the nation at 7pm as the number of infections continues to rocket and the death toll passed 10,000 over the weekend.

The change of venue from a usual press conference room to Rutte’s office is significant as it is usually only used when the Dutch premier makes a major announcement.

Rutte also postponed a planned meeting Monday with Belgian counterpart Alexander De Croo “in connection with recent developments around COVID-19”.

Parliamentary leaders of all Dutch political parties were to meet at Rutte’s ministry later on Monday. 

The expected tightening of measures follows a cabinet crisis meeting Sunday to discuss rapidly-rising figures with almost 10,000 new infections reported on the same day.

Schools may also have to close for a while and cabinet is also considering advising only going out when really necessary

“Exactly what the more stringent measures will be is not yet known, but there are many indications that non-essential stores will have to close for a while,” the NOS public broadcaster said. 

“This also applies to places where people gather, such as museums, theatres and amusement parks. 

“Schools may also have to close for a while and cabinet is also considering advising only going out when really necessary,” the NOS said.

The Dutch measures come after neighbouring German announced it would go into a partial lockdown from Wednesday with non-essential shops and schools to close as it battles an “exponential growth” in coronavirus infections.

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