Press conference: Rutte puts Netherlands on notice, gives municipalities more power

Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister of Health Hugo de Jonge have returned for another press conference after Dutch coronavirus infections began to soar in recent weeks.

In the past day, 601 people have tested positive. “The numbers are not lying and danger is looming” said Rutte.

“We risk losing what we’ve won” Rutte explained that he wants to avoid a second lockdown, and doesn’t believe it will be necessary. However, he also cautioned that it’s not something that happens on its own — and that the numbers speak for themselves ultimately.

A warning to all

“More people are going out with symptoms, and fewer people are getting tested. A large number of infections occur at home, at birthday parties or at dinners with friends. Coronavirus comes as an uninvited guest.”

“Don’t think you can meet with nieces, neighbours, friends, because then the virus strikes.”

Rutte called out young people especially for not following the rules. “If too many don’t follow the rules, we will soon all be inside again. Then, your parents and grandparents will be at risk. It’s not done yet, it’s not a joke, and it’s very stupid to act like it is. You’re not only responsible for yourself, but also for others.”

“Please, let’s avoid a second lockdown. We can only do it together.”

rutte netherlands coronavirus press conference
Rutte was joined by Minister Hugo de Jonge and two interpreters at tonights press conference (but not Irma Sluis) Image: still press conference

The latest measures and eye on Amsterdam

Local governments are now experimenting with mask rules, like in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Some municipalities are closing popular parking places, like at beaches, and trialling one-way roads in busy shopping streets. Amsterdam especially was singled out by Rutte as a city where people shouldn’t gather in crowded areas.

Meanwhile, locals mayors will now have the power to reduce the number of people at professional sport matches, after reports of crowds and singing during pre-season practices. They will also have the option to close bars. Any bars or restaurants that don’t adhere to the guidelines can be closed altogether. If the numbers are necessary, the government may also implement these restrictions at a national level.

New university students will also be subjected to more restrictions. They will undertake classes online as much as possible, and parties will need to adhere to the 1.5-metre rules. Student clubs will not be allowed massive events or parades to recruit new members at introduction week, alcohol will not be allowed at the events that do proceed, and the party must be over at 10:00 pm.

Bars and restaurants on notice

Rutte also warned bars, restaurants, and the people attending them to continue following the rules. “You must make a reservation ahead or at the door, they must ask the questions, and you have to leave your name and contact details to make contact tracing easier.” Any bars or restaurants that don’t adhere to the guidelines can be closed altogether. And, if a museum or amusement park has an infection, it must close for 14 days.

Testing at Schiphol, an app, and fast-tracked results

Health Minister Hugo de Jonge also said the rise in infections was worrying. “It’s worrying. Most infections are occurring in groups. There are now 259 clusters of at least three infections that can be linked to each other.” But, he assured us that we have made more progress since the outbreak began.

Visitors and returning residents to the Netherlands from areas marked as orange are urged to get tested when they land at Schiphol. Meanwhile, from August 17 they will continue testing the Dutch coronavirus tracing app which, if successful, will then have a national rollout.

From August 12, coronavirus test results will be fast-tracked — people will be able to go online to find out if they tested positive.

Recent coronavirus infections numbers in the Netherlands

In the past day, 601 people have tested positive. Recent days have also seen a dramatic increase in coronavirus infections, with 426 confirmed yesterday, and 485 on Tuesday. The student cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the current infection hotspots.

While one additional person was reported hospitalized today, the number of people in the ICU decreased by one, to 29. In terms of deaths, three people passed yesterday, and one on Tuesday. No deaths have been reported in the past 24-hours.

The percentage of tests that confirm coronavirus has also experienced a jump, with 2.3% of tests now returning with a positive result. At the lowest point in early July, on 0.6% of tests performed were positive.

Follow DutchReview on Facebook for more information about coronavirus in the Netherlands.

Feature Image: DutchReview/Supplied

Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Sam isn’t great at being Dutch. Originally hailing from Australia, she came to study in the Netherlands without knowing where the country was on a map. She once accidentally ordered the entire ice-cream menu at Smullers. She still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike. But, she remains fascinated by the tiny land of tall people.


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