Minister of Health Hugo de Jonge expects that it will take some time to lower the infections to a level that allows for relaxation of measures. “You have to assume that it will really take longer than mid-January,” the minister said after Tuesday’s Vragenuurtje (Question Time).
De Jonge says the partial lockdown will likely remain in place until the rate of infection slows to a point where the roadmap suggests measures can be eased. “You can now say that the braking distance is simply longer,” says De Jonge, according to NU.
The minister says that with the R number again above 1, the RIVM’s only slightly lower weekly figures are cause for concern. “In a whole week, we only had 715 fewer infections, which is nowhere near good enough.”
De Jonge emphasises, “The fastest way to get rid of the measures is to stick to the measures.”
Question of Christmas
The cabinet is hoping to be more lenient around Christmas, but the current trend in coronavirus cases leaves this very much in question. “It does not look good. The expansion of possibilities in December has become uncertain,” said the minister.
A December 8 press conference will reveal what the cabinet determines for holiday measures. Previous advice from the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) and RIVM has been that measures should remain in place until at least mid-January.
One measure the cabinet is considering is keeping schools closed for longer around Christmas. “You have to keep schools closed longer if you really cannot do otherwise,” says De Jonge. “We have seen that this worked around the autumn holidays.”
“We will have to do everything we can”
De Jonge says that the recent decline in hospitalizations and ICU admissions is no cause for confidence. “In the short-term, we will have to do it ourselves, we are really not there yet.”
“We were well on our way and thought we were in control,” says De Jonge. “But if we want to spend Christmas together, we will have to do everything we can.”
What do you think of De Jong’s message? Are you optimistic that the partial lockdown can be lifted by the new year? Tell us in the comments below.