Avoid Amsterdam crowds, Dutch PM tells tourists
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called on tourists Thursday to avoid crowded places in Amsterdam as coronavirus infections showed a worrying rise, causing the government to tighten measures to fight the pandemic.
Health authorities in the lowlands country on Thursday reported 601 new infections in one day, the highest figure since April 26, with more than 3,000 new infections in one week especially among younger people.
"To all tourists, both locally and from other countries, avoid crowded places in Amsterdam," Rutte told a press conference in The Hague to discuss the virus.
Amsterdam introduced the compelled wearing of face masks in certain busy areas on Wednesday including in its Red Light district and high-street shopping areas.
But many people ignored the call, despite being warned by police and municipal law enforcement officers and risking a 95-euro ($112 fine).
The government also announced tightening of existing measures including a compulsory two-week quarantine for people from so-called orange risk countries.
Health authorities are expected to have coronavirus test facilities up-and-running at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport by the end of next week for people returning from high-risk countries to undertake a voluntary test.
Rutte however said the Netherlands, where more than 6,150 people have died of COVID-19 "has not yet reached a critical point."
"However, the virus is making dangerous advances. Coronavirus has not gone away."
"It's not a joke and its very stupid to pretend that it is," he said.