By Bart H. Meijer and Anthony Deutsch

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -The Netherlands will return to a partial lockdown from Saturday after the government ordered restaurants and shops to close early and barred spectators from major sporting events in an effort to contain a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases.

Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a televised address on Friday that the stricter rules will be imposed for three weeks.

“Tonight we are bringing a very unpleasant message with very unpleasant and far-reaching measures,” Rutte said. “The virus is everywhere and needs to combated everywhere,” he said.

Supermarkets and non-essential retailers will also close earlier and social distancing measures will be reimposed. The number of recommended no more than four visitors at home.

Rutte said the government was also exploring ways to limit public access to people who have not been vaccinated after the lockdown period.

(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch, Bart Meijer, Toby Sterling; Editing by Chris Reese and Grant McCool)