Dutch to go ‘back to normal’ with end to most COVID curbs

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The Netherlands will lift almost all anti-COVID restrictions by February 25 and return to normal life as cases and hospitalisations fall, the health minister said on Tuesday.

Bars, restaurants and nightclubs will go back to pre-pandemic opening hours while social distancing and face masks will no longer be obligatory in most places.

The Dutch government had imposed some of Europe’s toughest restrictions in December after a surge in Omicron cases but has been lifting them in stages.

“The country will open again,” Health Minister Ernst Kuipers told a press conference.

“We will go back to normal closing times we had before corona, you don’t have to keep 1.5 metres away anymore,” he added.

“Masks are obligatory only on public transport and in the airport. Keeping your distance and wearing a mask remain sensible, but there is no obligation.”

Kuipers warned however that the pandemic was “not over” and that vulnerable people still had to take care.

The health minister took office as part of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s new government in January and quickly signalled that he wanted to start getting society back to normal.

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