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A photograph taken on March 22, 2020 shows a panel of Rotterdam's municipality indicating protective measures to adopt on a sports field as part of the measure taken by the Dutch government to fight against the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak (the novel coronavirus). - AFP pic
A photograph taken on March 22, 2020 shows a panel of Rotterdam's municipality indicating protective measures to adopt on a sports field as part of the measure taken by the Dutch government to fight against the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak (the novel coronavirus). - AFP pic

THE HAGUE: The Netherlands is extending a ban on all public gatherings from April 6 until June 1 to curb the spread of the deadly Covid-19 coronavirus, the justice minister said on Monday.

“This will hit hard for some,” Ferd Grapperhaus told a news conference. “But we have no other choice if we want to stop the coronavirus.”

Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned that if the ban did not work the next step would be a full lockdown, after ministers were alarmed by large crowds at Dutch beaches at the weekend.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Security and Justice in the Hague, the Netherlands, after a meeting with the Ministerial Crisis Management Committee on the outbreak of the COVID-19 caused by the coronavirus. -AFP pic
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Security and Justice in the Hague, the Netherlands, after a meeting with the Ministerial Crisis Management Committee on the outbreak of the COVID-19 caused by the coronavirus. -AFP pic

“I hope that’s not necessary,” Rutte added.

The rule applies to all sizes of gatherings including those less than 100 people, which was the previous rule announced by the Netherlands earlier this month, the government said.

Shops and public transport services must also take extra steps to make people stay 1.5 metres apart, include entry restrictions if necessary.

A cyclist rides at a police blockade made with containers on the alternative border crossings between Belgium and the Netherlands, in Hoogstraten. -AFP pic
A cyclist rides at a police blockade made with containers on the alternative border crossings between Belgium and the Netherlands, in Hoogstraten. -AFP pic

The Dutch government has already ordered the closure of schools, bars, restaurants and gyms, as well as the country’s famous cannabis cafes and sex clubs.

Authorities on Monday reported 34 more Covid-19 deaths in the Netherlands and 545 new cases, both figures down slightly from Sunday.

In total there have been 213 deaths and 4,749 confirmed cases. - AFP

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