Couple fleeing Omicron quarantine hotel in Holland are arrested on flight to Spain as mutant strain spreads
DUTCH police said they have arrested a married couple who left a Covid quarantine hotel and were attempting to flee the country.
They were detained yesterday on a plane in Amsterdam's Schiphol airport just before it departed for Spain.
The drama came after Dutch authorities said that 61 people who arrived on two flights at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on Friday had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Thirteen of them had the new Omicron variant.
One of the members of the couple had tested positive for Covid-19 and went into isolation, while the other person was negative but in quarantine, according to Public health authority spokeswoman Stefanie van Waardenburg.
She added that both were back in isolation, but not at the same hotel.
They are a Spanish man, 30 and a Portuguese woman, aged 28,
Ms van Waardenburg said: "The arrests took place in a plane that was about to take off. They were on a plane that was about to depart for Spain at around 6pm.”
Border police are now laying charges with the Dutch public prosecutor's office against the couple for jeopardising public safety, he said.
The pair had been handed over to the public health authority, Verberkt confirmed.
It was not known how the couple left the hotel or how the alarm was raised.
🔵 Read our Omicron variant live blog for the latest news & updates
Last night it was confirmed:
- New compulsory mask rules for shops and trains will come into force on Tuesday after a law change is nodded through today;
- International arrivals entering the UK from Tuesday morning will have to take a PCR test for Covid and self-isolate until they get a negative result;
- Children in Year 7 and above will be told to mask up in communal areas in schools and colleges from today.
The Dutch authorities announced stricter new travel protocols on Friday as alarm mounted around the world about the new Omicron variant, which first emerged in southern Africa.
The 600 people on the two South Africa flights on Friday spent most of the day stuck at the airport being tested in conditions that one person described as "dystopia central".
Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge had said just hours earlier that authorities in the Netherlands would ensure that people obeyed quarantine rules.
The Covid-positive passengers from the South Africa flights are almost all at the hotel while a handful have been allowed to go into home quarantine.
Passengers who tested negative have also been ordered into home quarantine.
Mr de Jonge said: "We will control whether they keep to those rules.”
The health minister added that it could not be excluded that more people than the initial 13 had contracted the Omicron variant.
He said: "We are concerned, but how much we should be at this stage we don't know yet.”
Police and security guards were on guard at the quarantine hotel, a spokeswoman for the local mayor said earlier.
She said: "The security is there for a reason.”
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