Press conference: new coronavirus measures for the Netherlands come into effect Wednesday

Following the release of suspected measures yesterday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister for Health Hugo De Jonge have gathered the press once again.

Unlike last week’s press conference, which saw no new coronavirus measures, this week’s conference has brought with it some additional restrictions. The restrictions are set to begin tomorrow night at 10 PM and will be nationwide.

Prime Minister Rutte has said that while the coronavirus numbers are going down, they need to be decreasing at a faster rate. For this reason, the cabinet will be introducing stricter measures.

“We need to stand by the people who work in the hospitals and make sure people on waiting lists for other problems can get treatment. We need to bring down movement, have less contact, and fewer people together.” Rutte says that only once the Netherlands has accomplished this, can the country move on to the next phase.

The new measures will last for two weeks and once they are complete we will revert back to the current measures. Below, you can find a list of the new and current measures.

New measures

  • The number of people allowed to meet up outside has been reduced from four people to two. Children and people from the same household are exempted from this.
  • The maximum amount of visitors per day in a household has been reduced to two. Children up to the age of 12 are exempt from this number.
  • Everyone must stay at home as much as possible. Rutte asks that you ask yourself whether a trip to the shops is really necessary. Don’t go shopping just for fun.
  • Theatres, cinemas, sports clubs, museums, amusement parks, zoos, casinos, amusement parks, pools, saunas will be closed to the public.
  • Mouth masks will be made obligatory by December 1 (potentially earlier.)
  • Cabinet urges people not to travel, either domestically or abroad. The cabinet recommends no travel abroad until at least mid-January.

In addition to this, regions may implement additional measures. This may include, for example, a curfew or the closure of high schools.

The decision to impose these new measures has been highly debated. While Prime Minister Rutte, Health Minister De Jonge, and Public Health Minster Van Arkel proposed a two-week closure of the country, other officials were in opposition.

Minsters Hoekstra, Grapperhaus and Ollongren say the measures are going too far. These new measures are in addition to current measures, which are expected to last through December.

However, Rutte has said the Netherlands needs these new measures, and it needs them sooner rather than later. “There’s no other option. We have to do something about this second wave. The faster we go, the better it will be.”

Other measures currently in effect (lasting through December)

  • All bars, restaurants and coffee shops will now be closed. Take-away is still allowed and this extends to coffee shops as well. After 8 PM, alcohol and weed will be banned from consumption in public spaces. Hotels can remain open and serve their guests. 
  • The maximum amount of people that are allowed to gather in public spaces remains at 30. Churches and parliaments remain exceptions to this for the moment but Rutte has appealed to these institutions.
  • Amateur contact sports are not allowed. This applies for those above the age of 18. However, professional sports are still allowed so long as there is no audience. 
  • Most events are banned, from festivals to neighbourhood barbeques.
  • All shops will be closed after 8 PM. There will be special hours for vulnerable people and the government will engage with the retail sector to try and arrange for safe shopping. Where 1.5 meters is not possible and corona measures aren’t followed, shops can be closed. 
  • Working from home is strongly advised.
  • It is strongly encouraged that people do not travel abroad. If you do choose to travel within the Netherlands you can only travel with a maximum of four people from different households.
  • Mouth masks are to be worn by everyone above the age of 13 in public sectors, this includes in schools, MBO’s and University. This will be legally enforced as soon as possible (which can be days, in theory, months in practice).
  • Retailers must limit the number of shoppers to ensure 1.5-metre distance. Individual venues will be consulted to determine the maximum number of visitors allowed inside at one time.
  • Contact-based industries (such as hairdressers and dentists) must ask customers to provide their name and contact details.

“Don’t be surprised if we are strict.”

Rutte has warned that those who break the restrictions will be disciplined. Fines will be handed out more often.

“In the end, most of the people are following the rules — so a small group of people cannot spoil it for everyone else,” says Rutte.

Healthcare under pressure

Health Minister Hugo De Jonge has said that while coronavirus numbers are beginning to slow down and decrease, they are not doing so fast enough for the healthcare system. This is why he is also in favour of the new two-week restrictions.

“The amount of infections is lowering but we still have to take extra measures for the next two weeks on top of the intelligent lockdown that we already have. People ask why — if you look at the numbers we have, it’s not as low as it seems.”

Hospitals continue to struggle and De Jonge describes today’s weekly figures as “way too many.”

Second wave worse for hospitals

During the first wave, patients were entering and leaving the hospital at a fast rate. In the second wave of coronavirus, people are staying in the hospital for longer, De Jonge says. This has led to even more pressure this time round on healthcare staff.

“That means in the end that more people are in the hospital in the second wave than the first wave.”

De Jonge took a moment to highlight the continuing worry for nursing homes as well. He says that one in four nursing homes have now been hit hard by coronavirus. This further increases pressure on healthcare workers as more workers must take time off if they catch the virus.

He also thanked healthcare workers for their hard work in a trying year “We are so thankful to all the people in healthcare that we can count on them again.”

Will there be a Christmas?

De Jonge has said “Christmas will be different this year for sure.” However, with the strict implementation of these new measures for two weeks, the hope is that people will be able to celebrate Christmas with some of their family.

“Everyone wants a life with as few restrictions as possible, but that’s only possible if we get infections down. Therefore, we take these stronger measures and we have to do them for the next two weeks.”

Ultimately however, it is not known for certain whether or not Christmas will be a success this year, only time will tell.

Numbers begin to decrease

While some ministers may see these new restrictions as going too far, there is no denying their positive impact. The current restrictions have led to some hope for the Netherlands as the number of daily infections is slowly beginning to drop.

For example, this week saw 64,087 new coronavirus cases. This is an undeniably high number but nonetheless it is lower than last weeks figure of 67,542. The number of patients in the hospitals however, continues to climb.

The Netherlands still has a long way to go in its fight against coronavirus, but these figures indicate that the current restrictions are taking effect. With the continued imposition of coronavirus measures, this may be the beginning of the end of the second wave.

Follow DutchReview on Facebook for the latest coronavirus news and updates. 

Feature Image: DutchReview

Sarah O'Leary 🇮🇪
Sarah O'Leary 🇮🇪
Before becoming the Senior Editor of DutchReview, Sarah was a fresh-faced international looking to learn more about the Netherlands. Since moving here in 2017, Sarah has added a BA in English and Philosophy (Hons.), an MA in Literature (Hons.), and over three years of writing experience at DutchReview to her skillset. When Sarah isn't acting as a safety threat to herself and others (cycling), you can find her trying to sound witty while writing about some of the stickier topics such as mortgages and Dutch law.


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