Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge will hold a press conference tonight at 7 PM about coronavirus measures in the Netherlands. A three-week extension of the lockdown is anticipated. These are some of the discussions expected for the conference.
Reopening of schools
One of the main points of concern for the extension of the lockdown is regarding children returning to schools. Information from The Hague was leaked yesterday about the possible reopening of schools on January 25.
The cabinet is said to be looking for safe ways to reopen daycare and primary schools. While there is evidence of major outbreaks in schools and contact tracing that often leads back to the classroom, the ministers are waiting to see what the research presents.
British strain and children
After the widespread outbreak of the new British strain at a school in Bergschenhoek, suspicions have been raised that children are especially susceptible to this mutation.
“The OMT advice is not yet clear about the contagiousness of the British variant for children,” explains political reporter Fons Lambie. The Outbreak Management Team (OMT) is expected to conduct investigations, after which it will be evident whether a reopening of schools on January 25 is feasible.
Confusion over British variant
There is some uncertainty over the effects of the British variant of the virus in the Netherlands. Recent reports from Great Britain show that the mutated strain may become dominant there within a few months, according to RTL.
However, separate data regarding patients currently receiving care in British hospitals reflects that the original strain is still widely circulating. Questions are now being raised about the contagiousness of the British variant.
Mayors call for clarity
Mayors of the 25 security regions have raised concern over how and when the lockdown will end. “At the moment we support the lockdown, but it is about afterwards,” said Mayor Hubert Bruls, chairman of the Security Council. “People yearn for a different future.”
Without perspective, the mayors fear support for the current measures will wane, “Not only with the business community and the catering industry, but also people sitting at home,” said Bruls. “You cannot keep throwing measure on measure endlessly.”
According to Bruls, “Before spring arrives we need to have a new perspective.”
Will measures be tightened?
Whether new travel restrictions or a curfew will come into play, it’s still too early to tell, explains Lambie. These changes would “require considerable enforcement capacity,” which has already presented problems under the current measures.
“We see full parking spaces at many companies. That is really different from March and April,” says Mayor Bruls. “People are still visiting each other as usual.”
Ultimately, the lockdown comes down to infection rates. “The contamination figures are just not going down fast enough,” says Lambie.
Follow tonight’s press conference in English as we report on our live blog.
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