Belgians and Dutch are facing new COVID-19 measures to curb new peak

BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium and the Netherlands are taking new measures on Friday to prevent a COVID-19 spike from spiraling out of control, in the hopes that action now will safeguard the joys of Christmas next month.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo had to tighten the measures for the second time in a week and closed nightclubs, while bars and restaurants must close at 11 p.m. for the next three weeks.

Peaks in cases and hospitalizations surpassed even the worst medical forecasts, forcing Belgium to act quickly.

“We have been misled by the delta variant,” he said of the highly contagious version of COVID-19.

He said there are now more than 25,000 cases a day in the country of 11 million. “This is unprecedented in our country.”

Neighboring country The Netherlands is struggling with the virus just as hard. The Dutch government is expected to announce an extension of a partial lockdown that has been in place for two weeks amid soaring infections and ICU admissions.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge will give a television press conference at 7 p.m. to outline new measures.

Bars and restaurants that have to close their doors as early as 8pm may be ordered to close even earlier. “There is no question that we need measures – tough measures –,” said De Jonge on Thursday.

He said a panel of experts advising the government on its coronavirus policy has recommended measures that will force a reversal in the rising trend of infections.

“This turnaround will not happen by itself,” says De Jonge.

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