This evening, Prime Minister Rutte and Minister de Jonge held a press conference at 19:00 to discuss the current state of affairs regarding the coronavirus crisis in the Netherlands. This comes after the cabinet met this evening.

There were no big revelations of new rules: instead, the press conference is part of the government’s strategy to take the public along with them in the decision making process. Rutte began by thanking people for keeping to the social distancing rules during the sunny Easter weekend, and he emphasised that those who had not kept to the rules were both a minority and had been punished.

The more we follow the rules, the sooner we can relax them

He also reiterated that the more people followed the rules, the sooner we could think about loosening them. In response to a question from an NOS reporter, Rutte said that he very much hoped that specific rules could be loosened from the 28 April onwards, but that it was also possible that the current lockdown might be completely continued, if the numbers (of deaths, IC beds, hospitalisations and cases) did not look good.

Both Rutte and de Jonge brought up the three criteria again, which we heard about last week. In order for the government to allow the lockdown to end, there needs to be less pressure on the healthcare system, there needs to be a way to track infections, and there needs to be sufficient test capacity.

Relaxing specific rules, not normal life

Rutte said that it would be impossible for the Netherlands to open completely and go back to normal life on 28 April; the only possibility would be the loosening of specific rules. He encouraged businesses, schools, and cultural institutions to draw up plans of how they could reopen, while keeping to the 1.5m rule.

No face masks for Dutchies

De Jonge was grilled on why the Netherlands is not advising its citizens to wear face masks, as Belgium and Germany, for example, are. He stated that it was both unnecessary to do so, and would potentially have a negative effect on the healthcare system, where face masks are still in short supply. His views were based on the advice of the RIVM. He did admit, in response to follow up questions, that the expert advice from the RIVM was definitely influenced by the scarcity of masks the Netherlands is dealing with.

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Feature Image: Still press conference Rutte. 

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