Dutch propose curfew to rein in virus; will ban more flights

The Dutch government says it wants to impose a curfew as part of beefed-up restrictions to rein in the spread of a new more contagious coronavirus variant that already accounts for at least one in 10 Dutch infections

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- The Dutch government wants to impose a curfew as part of beefed-up restrictions to rein in the spread of a new more contagious virus variant that already accounts for at least one in 10 Dutch infections.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Wednesday that his government also will ban flights from the U.K., South Africa and South America beginning Saturday for a month.

Rutte's four-party coalition resigned Friday over a scandal involving thousands of parents wrongly being labeled fraudsters by the country’s tax office. It remains in office until a new coalition is formed following a March 17 general election.

If parliament approves the curfew, the Netherlands would join other European Union countries that have told people to stay home after dark, including Belgium, France, Italy, Greece and parts of Germany.

“It's a tough measure,” Rutte said. “Nobody wants a curfew; nobody is cheering this.”

The Netherlands has been in a tough lockdown for a month and will remain that way until at least Feb. 9, but the government says a slow decrease in the number of infections and the threat posed by new variants have forced it to take tougher action.

Rutte said the number of visitors people are allowed at home will now be cut from two to one at a time, and the number of people allowed to attend funerals will be halved from the current 100.

The Netherlands has counted 13,264 deaths in the pandemic, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

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