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Theaters open as hairdressers for a day to protest a Dutch lockdown

Dozens of theaters and museums in the Netherlands planned to open as hair salons and gyms on Wednesday in what was seen as a playful protest over a continued nationwide shutdown in the arts sector, although restrictions on some companies were reduced.

The country went into a full lockdown in December for fear that an increase in cases would overwhelm its relatively small intensive care capacity. And although the government relaxed some of the measures last week - reopening of unnecessary shops until 1 p.m.

In response, dozens of art organizations joined a protest, which they called "Theater Hairdresser," with theaters opening as hair salons and some museums opening their doors as gyms. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam offered beard trimming, haircuts and manicures, with the option of "Van Gogh-inspired nail art."

"And it's never been more fun to wait at the hairdresser," said the organizer's website, referring to events held in theaters involving several Dutch celebrities. People were even clipped while listening to classical music in Amsterdam's Royal Concert Hall.

The Netherlands reported nearly 243,000 new virus cases over the past week, up from nearly 202,000 the week before, according to government data. But admissions are falling: Last week, 647 Covid patients were hospitalized, down from 940 the week before.

"The priority is not clear," Sanne Wallis de Vries, a comedian who organizes "Theater Frisør," told a Dutch talk show on Tuesday, saying she did not understand why theaters should remain closed while shops were allowed to open.

Mayor Femke Halsema of Amsterdam said she would not allow the protest and that closure rules would be enforced in the city.

But Mrs Wallis de Vries said: "This is just playful. It's just fun."

"What do you gain by banning it?" she asked.

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