Dutch healthcare unions call relaxation of measures “Russian roulette”

Healthcare unions have criticised the relaxation of coronavirus measures announced at last night’s press conference, saying the re-opening of Dutch society is starting too early.

Last night, the Dutch government announced six areas for relaxation, including the reopening of terraces during designated hours, the ability to shop in non-essential stores without an appointment, and an increase of guests allowed in the home.

“Society wants the start of the end, the road back to normalcy,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at the time.

Hospitals remain under pressure, say unions

Chairperson of healthcare union NU91 Stella Salden says that nurses would love to be able to relax, but the pressure needs to come off Dutch hospitals first. “So then we can soon enjoy a beer or wine at the terrace, especially the nurses who have been on the front line for a year.”

FNV Zorg director Elise Merlijn has called the move “Russian roulette,” arguing that hospitals are continuing to operate under an “all hands on deck” policy. “There is a high level of absenteeism and operating theatres are closed because employees help out in intensive care,” she explains.

“I wonder how happy people will be when they stand in front of a closed hospital door,” Merlijn said.

Government authorities disagree

Conversely, the National Acute Care Network says the current number of infections and hospitalizations show that the measures can be relaxed. “There is now a stable level. If it stays that way, we think that cautious, light easing is possible,” said a spokesman.

Rutte agrees, saying last night that the curve is flattening and data from the RIVM shows that now is a “responsible” enough time to take that first step.

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Samantha Dixon
Sam isn’t great at being Dutch. Originally hailing from Australia, she came to study in the Netherlands without knowing where the country was on a map. She once accidentally ordered the entire ice-cream menu at Smullers. She still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike. But, she remains fascinated by the tiny land of tall people.

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