The Outbreak Management Team (OMT) has advised the cabinet to begin to reopen schools in May, according to documents seen by RTL Nieuws.
Tonight, the Prime Minister will give a press conference, detailing the decision that the cabinet has taken about the next phase of the coronacrisis in the Netherlands. Until 28 April, the current social distancing measures are in place: these include school closures, no cafes or restaurants offering sit-down meals, and lots of crossing the street when you see someone.
The 1.5 metre society is here to stay
Last week, Rutte emphasised that even with the best case scenario, we will definitely not be returning to normal life in May: the 1.5 metre society is here to stay. But, in terms of what we can expect from tonight’s press conference, the OMT’s advice is a good indication of what the government might decide to do.
OMT advises gradual reopening of primary schools in May
First of all, primary schools are likely to be reopened in May, and summer holidays will probably be shortened to make up for the time children have missed in school. The OMT recommends for primary schools to start with smaller groups of students, staggered throughout the day. There has not been any indication yet about what high schools should do, but it is likely to be similar.
Cancel public gatherings til September or October
Public gatherings and events should be cancelled until 1 September, or even October, according to the OMT’s advice: so that’s bad news for any of you hoping for a late-summer festival or concert. It will also be interesting to see how this extension will affect universities, which closed in March when public gatherings were banned.
Catering industry to remain closed till mid-May
The OMT also advised for the catering, restaurant and cafe industry to remain closed until the middle of May, so don’t expect to go for a meal out any time soon. Healthcare institutions can think about allowing one or two visitors per patient, according to the OMT, and zoos and museums can work on developing a plan to reopen, so long as they still respect the 1.5 metre rule.
Of course this will all become clearer and more certain this evening, after the 7 PM press conference, but for now, this is what we can expect.
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Feature Image: Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture