Wales finally sets date to lift restrictions as omicron wave passes peak

The new government of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is expected to ease a month-long Covid-19 lockdown on Friday, as popular support for it is evaporating despite strain on hospitals and record new infections.

Most stores, hairdressers and gyms will be allowed to reopen, national broadcaster NOS reported, citing government sources. Restaurants are expected to remain closed except for takeaway service.

Mr Rutte, whose cabinet was installed on Monday, is due to make a televised address to the nation at 1800 GMT.

His caretaker government ordered the lockdown in mid-December as a wave of the delta variant forced the health system to cancel all but the most urgent care and it appeared rising omicron cases would overwhelm it.

Infections have continued to rise despite the lockdown, which bans all public gatherings, with a record of more than 200,000 in the week through January 11, according to the Netherlands Institute for Health (RIVM). But hospitalisations declined slightly.

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