At least 61 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed after two planes from South Africa carrying over 600 passengers landed at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport Friday, the Washington Post and New York Post report.
It remains unclear whether any of those cases are instances of the new Omicron variant. Infected passengers will be required to quarantine at a hotel for at least five days. Those who tested negative were allowed to return home or continue to their ultimate destinations. According to a New York Times reporter who was a passenger on one of the flights, several of her fellow passengers were maskless in violation of the mandate imposed by Dutch airline KLM.
The Dutch government re-imposed a partial lockdown earlier this month and had already planned to tighten those restrictions starting this weekend. Under the new policy, most businesses will have to close at 5 p.m. and remain closed until 5 a.m. New Year’s Eve fireworks have already been cancelled for the second consecutive year, and crowds have been banned from sporting events.
These new restrictions led to riots in Rotterdam earlier this month. Protestors threw rocks and torched cars, and police shot and wounded two people.
Despite a nationwide vaccination rate of over 70 percent, one of the highest in Europe, the Netherlands’ infection rate is still at its highest point since the beginning of the pandemic, with over 20,000 new cases per day.
This story has been updated to reflect the most current number of COVID-19 cases.