Prime Minister Rutte and Minister for Health Hugo De Jonge have fronted the press once again (yes, on a Monday, we’re also confused) to address the slight relaxation of coronavirus measures in the Netherlands.
The OMT (Outbreak Management Team) have advised against any drastic relaxation of measures in the Netherlands due to the slight rise in coronavirus figures, however, the cabinet will implement some slight “corrections” and small changes. What exactly does this entail?
Measures extended, including curfew
The main coronavirus measures —including the “avondklok” — have been extended until March 30. However, there will be an exception to “break” curfew on election night as workers will need to count votes. Election day is on March 17, but in some cases and areas voting is already possible on the 15th and 16th, so there will be an exception on these days too.
Changes to current measures
However, there will be small changes to current measures:
Sport for over 27s: Those over the age of 27 will now be allowed to exercise outdoors at sport centres in groups of no more than four. Swimming lessons for children can be resumed.
More customers allowed in shops: There will also be a slight increase in the number of customers allowed in shops. On March 16, shops are still allowed to have 1 person in their store per 25m2 of space.
This means that multiple people may be allowed on one floor at any given time as long as they can have 25m2 of space each. There is a maximum of 50 people though, in case you’re hoping to invade the IKEA with 100s.
For small shops of up to 50m2 there will be a maximum of only two people in the shop at any given time, meaning that nothing will change in these cases. Shoppers will also still have to book their time slot to shop up to four hours in advance, 1,5 meter distance and all the other measures.
Travel ban extended: The current ban on flights travelling between the Netherlands and South Africa, the UK and certain South American countries has also been extended until April 15.
Swimming lessons for children up to 12 years old. All indoor sports facilities remain closed to the general public. However, an exception will be made for children up to and including the age of 12 who need swimming lessons.
New advice on March 23: The cabinet will revisit these restrictions on March 23 and see if any changes can be made for the May vacation.
De Jonge: all going well everyone will receive a jab by early July
The outgoing Minister for Health, Hugo De Jonge claimed that anyone who wants a vaccine will have received at least one jab by early July. This is of course, if all goes well in terms of delivery and distribution.
He said that the government are now looking into potentially only giving one dose of the vaccine to those who have previously had coronavirus. More research is needed into this however.
Still in the third wave
De Jonge also pointed out that the Netherlands is still in the midst of the third wave of coronavirus with numbers continuing to rise due to the British variant. “The prospects for the third wave are not good,” he said.
This could lead to yet another crisis in Dutch hospitals. “If the bad prospects come true, hospitals will be as full next month as they were last year”, the minister warned.
Relaxation possible if R rate drops: terraces might open!
However, if the numbers do stay down and the R rate (the rate of infection per person) stabilises to around 1, further relaxations may be possible around Easter, De Jonge said. He believes that if this happens, there may be room to reopen terraces again on March 31.
If relaxations are possible, he said that secondary education needs to be prioritised so that students can return to campus at least once per week. This would be done in conjunction with rapid testing.
Why hasn’t curfew been relaxed
One of the first questions asked to decommissioned Prime Minister Mark Rutte is why the curfew has not been relaxed along with other measures. He argues that whilst the slight relaxation of the retail industry and sports sectors do not affect the R rate, the lifting of curfew would.
This is the advice that the cabinet has been given by the Outbreak Management Team, Rutte explained, “it remains a measure that you really want to get rid of but what you see is that the curfew, in combination with the visitor regulation, really has an effect. The OMT has clear advice not to relax the curfew.”
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Feature Image: Press conference/screenshot.