Amsterdam, 19 Dec (ONA) --- The Netherlands has begun a strict lockdown over Christmas amid concerns over the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Non-essential shops, cafes, gyms, hairdressers and other public venues are closed until at least 14 January. Two guests per household will be allowed - four over the holidays.
Countries across Europe have been tightening restrictions as the heavily mutated variant spreads.
The new rules in the Netherlands are the strictest to have been announced over Omicron so far.
For weeks, curfews have been placed on hospitality and cultural venues in the Netherlands in an effort to limit the spread of Omicron.
The Dutch National Institute for Public Health has reported more than 2.9 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, and over 20,000 deaths.
It said the Omicron variant currently still accounts for a minority of coronavirus cases in the Netherlands, but is spreading rapidly.
Local officials said it is expected to become the dominant variant by the New Year.
Several other European countries have also announced measures designed to curb the infections, the BBC news reported.