Tonight, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister of Health Hugo de Jonge held a press conference once again. This time it was to announce that the measures taken two weeks ago will not be extended. We can visit a museum again and walk outside with a group of four.

The ministers confirmed that the two-week period of stricter measures will come to an end this week, meaning that we will revert back to the previous measures. As for Christmas, they are hoping to be able to ease restrictions for the holidays. But whether they do this or not will depend on how the numbers perform in the coming weeks.

Measures now in place

The following measures will be in place until at least mid-December and perhaps until Mid-January:

  • The number of people allowed to meet up outside has been expanded from two to four again. Children and people from the same household are not included in this.
  • A maximum of three guests from different households are allowed to visit your home per day (up from two guests).
  • All bars, restaurants, and coffee shops will remain closed, but take-away is still allowed. After 8 PM, alcohol and weed will be banned from consumption in public spaces. Hotels can remain open and serve their guests.
  • Theatres, cinemas, sports clubs, museums, amusement parks, and zoos will be opened to the public again. A maximum of 30 people are allowed to gather in public spaces. Religious gatherings and parliaments remain exceptions to this but Rutte has appealed to these institutions.
  • Most events are banned, from festivals to neighbourhood barbeques.
  • 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 (including in schools, MBOs, and universities). This will be legally enforced from December 1st, with a fine of €95 for those caught breaking the rule.
  • Retailers must limit the number of shoppers to ensure a 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.

Christmas holidays

De Jonge announced that they are hoping to ease the restrictions halfway through December so that the Netherlands can enjoy the Christmas holidays with some family members. They understand that people are lonely and missing social connections. However, the cabinet is nervous about a potential third wave hitting before Christmas, and so clarity over what measures will look like over the holidays cannot yet be confirmed.

Vaccine, testing, and quarantine

Health Minister De Jonge explained that not everyone will be able to be vaccinated immediately. However, there are plans in place to begin vaccinating the population at the beginning of 2021. Vaccinations will not be obligated but will be strongly encouraged by the government.

As for testing, capabilities will be expanded across the country and De Jonge has urged the public to get tested if they experience symptoms. They are aiming to make it possible to test without complaints by December 1 if you receive an alert from the CoronaMelder app that you have been in contact with someone who tested positive.

The ministers announced that the quarantine timeframe will be reduced from ten days to five days.

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But ultimately, De Jonge emphasised that living a healthy lifestyle is an important way to protect yourself from the virus.

Declining infection numbers

The weekly coronavirus update from RIVM revealed that the numbers of infections, hospitalisations and deaths all reduced in the last seven days. New infections tallied at 37,706, which is almost 6,000 less than the previous week. Hospitals admitted 1,496 patients compared to the previous week’s 1,520, and deaths decreased from 565 to 479. If anything, this indicates that the stricter measures we’ve experienced these past two weeks have made a difference.

“We can do better”

“We’ve taken a turn and are heading in the right direction, but it’s still not enough,” says De Jonge.

But Rutte urged the public that we can do better to follow the rules, particularly when it comes to working from home, supermarket behaviour and meeting up with friends. If the downward projection continues, De Jonge says they can consider easing most restrictions halfway through January.

De Jonge encouraged the public to be patient and “hang in there.”

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Feature Image: DutchReview/Supplied

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