Rutte and De Jonge have taken to the podium once again to update the Netherlands on the current coronavirus measures. After a week of leaks, here’s what they had to say.
This past week has seen information continuously leaked to the press. First, there were the whispers that measures will not be relaxed at the end of March, then came the rumours that the current negative advice against travel has been extended and, finally, the claim that curfew will be pushed back to 10PM.
Rutte and De Jonge have clarified the Netherlands current coronavirus restrictions. So, what will change and what will remain?
Measures will be extended until April 20
As was expected, coronavirus measures will be extended for a further three weeks until April 20. Rutte explained that the R number and rate of hospitalisation across the Netherlands are not low enough to justify any relaxation of current measures.
Rutte pointed out that he understands it is bad news, and the cabinet continue to look for relaxations where possible — but for now, nothing changes.
The prime minister also pointed out that the Netherlands is not alone in extending its measures, France and Germany are even tightening restrictions.
Curfew — pushed back an hour
However, one slight relaxation will be allowed. Rutte announced that “because of the contamination figures, no measures can be relaxed, except for the curfew, which we postpone for an hour.”
The “avondklok” will now be pushed back an hour and begin at 10PM. This is for a number of reasons.
Firstly, Daylight Savings Time will come into effect this Sunday night, meaning that the clocks will go back and evenings will be longer. This would make it more difficult to enforce an early curfew in the Netherlands, the Security Council believes.
However, there are also other factors at play in this decision. For example, Ramadan will begin in mid-April, which would be complicated by a 9PM curfew.
No sitting out on the terraces this Easter
While Rutte and De Jonge had expressed a hope to see the R rate drop enough for people to enjoy the terraces this Easter, this will no longer be the case.
The current restrictions will be extended until at least April 20 meaning that terraces may not open up for the Easter holidays.
Negative advice against travel for May holiday
Anyone who was hoping to get away this May will have to wait. The current negative advice against travel has been extended until at least May 15 — meaning there will be no exceptions for the May holiday.
Numbers are not doing well
The Dutch cabinet is not satisfied with the number of coronavirus infections in the Netherlands. This week saw 46,005 new cases with 1,441 hospital admissions.
However, Rutte claimed that if numbers do start to go down, measures may be relaxed — that being said, he also pointed out that if numbers continue to get worse, stricter measures may be brought in.
De Jonge: four million jabs by mid-April
Minister for Health, Hugo De Jonge, offered a quick update on the Netherlands’ vaccine strategy.
All going well, the country should see four million jabs given by mid-April and five million by May. These will be given for over 70’s.
By mid-May there is a possibility that over 60’s will start to receive their vaccines with those in the 40-30 age category receiving jabs in June. The Dutch government still aims to have all adults vaccinated by July 1.
Return to higher education a possibility
There is some hope for students of higher education, however. De Jonge claimed that it may be possible for students to return to in-person higher education once per week from April 26.
However, in order to do this, students must have access to rapid tests.
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Feature Image: Press conference/Screenshot