Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister for Health Hugo de Jonge have returned to the podium to announce an easing in coronavirus measures in the Netherlands.
The curfew is getting cut, shops are opening their doors, and we can finally drink wine on a terrace — if you’re a fan of day drinking, that is.
Here are the six things that will be changing from next week:
1. No more curfew
Mark this date in your diaries: the curfew will officially end on Wednesday, April 28 at 5:30 AM. That means if you’ve been craving a midnight walk, you can do so from Wednesday evening. Enjoy!
2. Amount of people allowed in the home increased to two
For months we’ve been limited to one visitor in the home. From Wednesday, April 28 that number doubles to two visitors per day. This is strong advice, but not a legal requirement.
“I realise that two people are still not many, but this is very important because most infections still occur at home,” says Rutte.
3. Terraces are allowed to reopen
Say goodbye to all that takeaway food: from Wednesday, April 28 terraces are allowed to reopen BUT only from 12 PM until 6 PM. There’s a maximum of 50 people allowed per terrace, health questions must be asked on arrival, your contact details will be taken, and a reservation must be made — but you are allowed to reserve on the spot.
There must also be 1.5 metres between each table unless physical barriers are in place, and a maximum of two people on one table unless they are from the same household.
4. You can visit non-essential shops without an appointment
A spot of window shopping turning into a big purchase? Why not! In this new world, you’ll be able to visit non-essential shops without making an appointment in advance. Hoera!
Rutte has asked people to shop alone as much as possible and advised that a mask is mandatory. There’s also still a maximum number of visitors per shop: for small stores, two people per floor, and for larger shops one customer per 25 square metres.
5. Higher education students return to the classroom one day per week
Student rejoice! It may not be the student life we are all dreaming of, but from Monday 26 university and HBO students can return to campus one day per week. They must adhere to regular measures and will be able to access self-tests from May.
6. Number of people at funerals increase, motor theory exams become possible again
Finally, the number of people allowed at a funeral will increase from 50 to 100, and theory exams for cars, motorbikes, boats etc. will be allowed to take place once again from April 26.
Basic measures more important than ever
Rutte has cautioned that the new opening plan is “careful steps.” By summer, the government would like to say goodbye to most of the coronavirus measures. Rutte isn’t sure when each step will occur, but says responsible risks will need to be taken.
Rutte repeated once again that basic rules like washing hands have become more important than ever. “If we follow those as best as we can we all help to make this first step more successful.”
“It’s a balancing act. We need to be very careful,” says Rutte. “Society wants the start of the end, the road back to normalcy.”
He took care to mention that healthcare workers are still dealing with full beds and will remain that way for a while. “Again, a balancing act,” he said.
Ready to reopen, or a political move?
So what has caused the sudden relaxation? Not a drop in figures, that’s for sure. The RIVM reported over 53,000 infections over the past week and 146 deaths. Rutte addressed this, saying the changes were “just enough.” According to him, the curve is flattening and data from the RIVM shows that now is a responsible enough time to take that first step.
However, the relaxation of measures has been criticised by the Outbreak Management Team (OMT). The RIVM’s Aura Timen called the changes a “political decision.” “It is important that we relax when we are in the declining leg of the epidemic. We are not there at the moment,” she says.
What’s coming next?
Are we on the road back to normal life? (what even is that again?) Well, if we believe Rutte, we could be. Next up, he’s hoping to broaden the measures for the hospitality industry, recognising that they probably wanted more from this evening’s announcements. “It’s a very rough time for them, but this is the first step,” he sympathised.
“We can’t do everything at once. We tried that in summer last year and it was not a good idea. We have to make decisions,” says Rutte. Gyms will also remain closed for the time being.
What do you think of the latest announcements by the Dutch government? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
Feature Image: DutchReview/Screenshot