“The country will open up again,” are the opening words of Health Minister Ernst Kuipers at tonight’s press conference. What does that mean? Dutch society will almost go back to pre-pandemic times starting February 25. 😍
“But first, ‘the why’ behind opening up,” continues Kuipers. The Dutch Health Minister recaps that corona rules had been necessary for the past to relieve the Dutch health care system and protect the most vulnerable in society.
The pandemic had been especially tough on health care personnel and those who’ve lost loved ones. But also, for those financially dependent on the cultural and HORECA sector.
Kuipers continues to say that hospital admissions have been stable despite a rapid spike of coronavirus infections. Through vaccines, boosters and a reduced risk of severe illness with the omicron variant, Kuipers says that the Dutch are now better protected.
“Everything needs to open up again,” says the Dutch Health Minister. There will be steps, big steps, he says. Young people need to be allowed to “spread their wings”, the Dutch have to enjoy sports, culture and each other again.
Phew, quite some poetry in there, Kuipers. So what do these steps look like exactly? 👇🏻
Good to know: All of the following measures will be re-evaluated on March 15.
Longer opening hours for HORECA and cultural sector
So, let’s dive right into it. There’s loads of good news for the HORECA (hotels, restaurants and cafés) and cultural sector. From February 18 onwards, you can stay in your favourite bar until 1 AM again (instead of 10 PM)!
The same rings true for restaurants and cafés but also events and nightlife. In even better news, as of February 25, businesses can open just as long as before the pandemic.
1,5-metre rule and facemasks
The 1,5-metre distance rule is officially scrapped for HORECA and bigger venues like theatres, concert halls or stadiums. Facemasks are also no longer required. Bye, bye seated concerts and hello huge, sweaty crowds! 👋
Well, at least up to 500 attendees when indoors. Above this threshold, mandatory seating and facemasks are still required. In addition, a negative test or coronavirus pass will be checked before entry. Are you heading to an outdoor festival? You have no obligation to test!
But don’t abandon your stack of masks just yet! You will have to stick to the mask mandate in public transport and airports. So, put on your mondkapje!
Guests at home
As of February 18, you’re also allowed to invite as many people into your house again as you wish! House parties here we go. 🥳
Well, or at least having more than four people over for dinner already feels like a big victory.
Last week, the OMT (Outbreak Management Team) advised the cabinet to shorten the isolation after a coronavirus infection.
And, surprisingly, they listened! The advice is now to stay home 5 days after testing positive. Kuipers also says that infected individuals can leave their quarantine if, after 24 hours they are entirely symptom-free.
Working from home
The advice to work or study from home as much as possible has been officially abandoned! Good news for students who can finally go to in-person classes again. Bad news for those who quite liked attending meetings with their boss in their PJs (they’ll never know 👀.)
First press conference without Mark Rutte
One face we were missing this Tuesday evening was that of Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte. For the first time since press conferences started in 2020, the PM left the floor entirely to the Dutch health minister.
Rutte has said that he won’t attend the press conferences regularly anymore, reports AD.nl. This also signals a ‘new phase’ in the Dutch approach towards governing the coronavirus pandemic: putting it a bit more on the backburner. (Yes, you’ve read that right!)
Ernst Kuipers did his job well, but we couldn’t help but notice the absence of OG Rutte serving us the latest coronavirus measures.
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Feature Image: Press Conference/Screenshot