The Netherlands in Hard Lockdown

On Monday, December 14th, Dutch Prime Minister Rutte announced in an official speech from his office (“het Torentje”) that the Netherlands would go into a hard lockdown. Almost 8.4 million viewers tuned in to listen to the Prime Minister’s address, which is the highest number of viewers for a press conference in the Netherlands thus far.

Starting that evening at midnight, until at least January 19th 2021, all non-essential businesses were to shut down. Schools (from daycare up to university) were given until that Wednesday to move all forms of education online. Only medical contact professions, such as dentists and physiotherapists, may remain active. Childcare furthermore remains open only to children whose parents have an essential profession. Hotels are also allowed to stay open, but can no longer serve any food.

The decision to go into a full lockdown comes as a surprise to most schools. Previously, the signals had been that schools would remain open for as long as possible, and would only be closed down as a last resort. With the rapidly growing Covid-19 numbers, however, kids in the age group between 12 to 18 seem to play an increasing role in the rise of infections. The lockdown has caused worrying questioning for what the repercussions will be to students’ education, both short-term and in the long run.

Additionally, places of worship are allowed to remain open during the lockdown. The Dutch inter-church partnership (or CIO) has, however, advised all churches to offer online services wherever possible. Should churches have a reason to hold a service in person during the upcoming holidays, the CIO strongly recommends allowing a maximum of thirty visiters.

Christmas in Lockdown
The maximum number of guests outside of your household during Christmas (24, 25 and 26 December) is three per day. However, even within this maximum number, the government strongly advises keeping guests to a minimum as much as possible. This means a smaller Christmas than we are used to, especially for expats who had been planning on visiting or receiving family over the holidays. December has always been a time for traditions, old ones and new ones, and the need for holiday spirit might be even greater this year after months of social distancing. However, most agree that the hard lockdown is a necessary measure to regain control over the Covid-19 infections. And if there’s any group of people who know what it is like to adapt, it is expats!

Now that restaurants are not allowed to open during the holiday season, an idea would be to order a “take-out holiday dinner” at home. You can also check out some online Holiday events in the What To Do section of this newsletter.

If you have any questions regarding the current measures and what they mean for your moving and settling-in process in the Netherlands, please feel free to contact our Relocation team at For general questions regarding the restrictions and travel advice, you can contact Expat Management Group at

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