Following the leak of rumoured national measures earlier today, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister for Health Hugo De Jonge have fronted the press once more to clarify the new restrictions.
As coronavirus cases continue to rise throughout the country, there has been much speculation surrounding the Dutch government’s approach to coronavirus. Rutte and De Jonge have previously said that they are hesitant to impose any new measures that may suffocate an already damaged economy. The introduction of strict measures has also caused much debate surrounding the question of individual freedom.
But infection numbers are rising way too fast, and thus here we are, another press conference and another set of measures — perhaps relaxed compared to the rest of the Europe but pretty heavy for the Dutch.
Rutte and De Jonge’s main message
Tomorrow, starting at 18.00, there will be new national measures. Measures which were before only thought to be needed at a regional level, but things have changed for the worst the last few days. The number of infections is so high at a regional level, that the government has now concluded that we need nationwide measures to get ahead of this second wave.
De Jonge also stated that we all needed to get our heads into countering corona, and Dutch people were getting more and more relaxed with the current corona measures. People weren’t washing their hands or working from home as much as they did previously and as such, this was reflected in the rapidly rising number of corona infections of the past weeks.
Even with the measures taken today, De Jonge expects that there will be at least 400 people in ICU beds halfway through October. All in all a serious situation and the tone throughout the press conference was serious and grim.
And thus, as the number of high risk regions have increased, Rutte and De Jonge have decided to take a stronger stance against the second wave. The Dutch government have introduced the following national and regional measures.
National measures as announced in the press conference
Rutte and De Jonge have confirmed that the new national measures are as follows, these will be active for (at least) the following 3 weeks and will be in effect after Tuesday 6.00 pm.
- The maximum number of people who can meet (without living together) is four. No more than 4 friends at one table.
- Only have 3 people over on top of the number of people in a household (urgent advice)
- Only 30 people will be allowed to congregate in public spaces, this includes restaurants (mayors can make an exception if needed for the public good)
- In outdoor areas, you can apply for a meeting of maximum 40 people.
- All businesses in the catering industry will have to close after 10pm. Last customers in at 9pm. To stop ‘alcoholic moments’ in which people transmit the virus.
- Sport games, professional and amateur can no longer have a physically present audience. Also because these games attract a lot of traveling folks. Sport canteens will also be closed for these 3 weeks.
- All contact professions are required to keep records of the contact details of their customers (barbershops and such)
- Shopping carts will be required in supermarkets and special hours will be arranged for vulnerable shoppers (this might take a few days).
- Shop alone, it’s not a fun outing. Shops need to make sure that people can keep 1,5 metre distance
- Shops in The Hague, Amsterdam and Rotterdam can refuse people who don’t want to wear a mouth mask.
- Also lastly but important, work from home, unless this is really not possible. So it’s back to the situation from before the summer. (Rutte: no teambuilding sessions)
And for those wondering, the regular corona measures are still valid. We’ve seen the government also change the announced measures slightly after the press conferences, this is something we can’t control or know of course.
Rutte also said “We know it’s a hard pill to swallow for all those entrepreneurs who have already gone through so much by now, but sadly, only together can we keep corona down”
Both men hope to see an effect on the corona numbers in 10 days to 2 weeks, otherwise there will be more drastic measures or even a return to the ‘intelligent’ lockdown of March till May.
Mouth masks still not in favour
There has been much debate surrounding whether or not masks should be made mandatory in order to battle coronavirus. Whilst some see it as an issue of freedom, others such as the Red Team, a group of independent experts have argued to the cabinet that masks are necessary in the battle against the virus.
The cabinet is allowing and advising shopkeepers in the big three cities to voluntarily refuse shoppers who don’t wear mouth masks but Rutte also reiterated that mouth masks aren’t the big answer to corona. So it’s still a no-go for obligatory nationwide mouth masks and thus the ‘soft’ stance on masks by the Dutch continues.
Feature Image: still press conference