With only ten days to go until we should all be stuffing ourselves full of sugar and alcohol under the haze of Christmas tree lights, many of us are wondering whether we will have the luxury of doing this in the company of our families this year.
And tonight, Rutte and De Jonge have answered that question — yes. But under strict conditions.
To begin, Rutte explained that yep, it’s no surprise but the current measures will be extended — and this time, until January 14, 2022.
Whilst Dutch coronavirus infections may be decreasing, he explained that with the Omicron variant spreading across the country, and healthcare barely holding on, the cabinet has decided to be cautious this Christmas.
So, what will Christmas in the Netherlands look like this year?
First, the good news
We thought we’d get things started with the good news this time round. So what do we have to feel somewhat happy about?
Schools wil be closing early for the Christmas holidays
Well, it’s good news for the kids at least. Schools and afterschool care in the Netherlands will be closing for early Christmas holidays this year.
Schools will close from Monday, December 20, however, they may also close on Tuesday so that they have more time to organise emergency care for vulnerable children and children whose parents have vital jobs. They will open again on January 10, 2022.
However, parents with young children can breathe a sigh of relief, daycare will remain open. Afterschool care will open once again during the period of the school Christmas holidays.
For those who will be keeping the kids at home, Rutte advises that they avoid playdates if they plan on seeing their grandparents this Christmas. 👵🏻
Coronavirus infections are going down
This week, the Netherlands marked a notable drop in coronavirus infections — meaning we’ve finally summited the peak and are now on the decline. However, it’s not smooth sailing just yet. The Omnicron variant is proving to be more infectious and this has health experts worried.
The Netherlands is expanding its booster campaign
Yesterday, Outgoing Minister for Health, Hugo de Jonge, announced that the Netherlands will be ramping up its booster vaccine campaign. He claimed that they want to enable everyone to receive one by mid-March.
However, tonight, the foot is on the accelerator again. Now, De Jonge expects that by the second week in January, those over the age of 18 will be able to book a booster appointment. They must have received their second dose more than three months previous.
With this strategy, the hope is that everyone who wants a booster in the Netherlands will have received it by February. 💪
The cabinet is looking towards a long-term strategy
It may come as a shock for some, but the cabinet is indeed self-aware. Rutte points out that, yes confidence in the Dutch coronavirus policy is lower than ever. However, the cabinet will now be turning its attention towards long-term policy.
Now, the bad news
Ok — checks our Christmas sack — that’s all we have in good news folks. Now it’s time to talk about some of the measures that’ll be following us around the festivities this year.
Extended evening lockdown
The first runny-nosed, sticky-fingered cretin that will be tugging on our sleeve for the next few weeks is the evening lockdown. Shops, restaurants and all other non-essential establishments must continue to close after 5 PM, with other essential businesses closing at 8 PM.
The evening lockdown will remain in place not just throughout the Christmas celebrations but also through to New Year’s Eve and right into 2022.
Celebrate with a limited number of family members
It looks like this year’s Christmas celebrations will also consist of shouting at your mom’s 10-year-old iPad in the hopes that your elderly relatives can perhaps decipher one word of what you’re saying.
The advice to only receive a maximum of four guests in your household remains with Rutte adding that everyone should self-test, wash their hands and keep their distance when visiting other households. He also points to grandparents, saying that younger family members have to keep their safety in mind.
However, this is just the Dutch government’s advice at the moment and not a hard rule, meaning you will not be penalised for having more than four guests.
While these certainly aren’t the Christmas celebrations we had hoped to have as we enter into 2022 — at least the chances of one particularly sticky, annoying, and lingering virus attending will be significantly reduced. ❤️
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Feature Image: Press Conference/Screenshot