Lockdown by nature – Dutch told to stay home as blizzards blast in

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AMSTERDAM, Feb 6 (Reuters) – The Netherlands was set to enter an even stricter lockdown as forecasts of heavy snow and strong winds on Sunday triggered the country’s first nationwide weather alert in nine years.

The government on Saturday issued a plea for citizens to stay at home as national weather institute KNMI issued a “code red” for the entire country, warning that icy winds of up to 90 km (56 miles) per hour and up to 20 centimetres (8 inches) of snow could lead to hazardous snow drifts on roads and limited visibility.

All coronavirus testing facilities will be closed on Sunday, health authorities said, while train services will be cut to a minimum level and major supermarkets cancelled deliveries after deciding it would be too dangerous to send drivers out.

All professional soccer matches were also scrapped for the day, while the Amsterdam city council decided to close all canal locks in a bid to make it possible to ice skate later in the week. Amsterdam Schiphol airport warned of delays.

The stay-at-home order added to an already broad lockdown in which non-essential stores, restaurants, bars and other public places have been closed for weeks and people have been told to limit travel in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. (Reporting by Bart Meijer Editing by David Holmes)

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