Today, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte gave what is hoped to be the last coronavirus press conference. More rules were relaxed, as the numbers of cases and deaths remain low in the Netherlands.
The press conference was an overwhelmingly positive one this evening, as some relaxations were able to be made almost two months earlier than previously thought. Prime Minister Rutte began the conference by reminding us that we have achieved this together. He especially emphasised that on Monday we had the first day in months with no coronavirus deaths.
However, he also emphasised that following the rules was the reason the Netherlands has managed to bring the virus under control. Over the next weeks, as more relaxations come into play, the basic rules must still be kept to. People should keep 1.5 metres distance from each other; they should work from home where possible; they should stay home if they have complaints and get tested if they have corona-related symptoms.
Large events and gatherings allowed from July 1
On July 1, in line with the newest advice from the Outbreak Management Team of the RIVM, two major changes will come into play. The first is that gatherings of more than 30 people will be possible, as we wrote this morning. For indoor events, there will be no maximum number of attendees so long as people are there by reservation and can be asked on their way in if they have any complaints. If this isn’t possible, the limit is set at 100. The 1.5-metre distance, of course, still needs to be possible.
For outdoor events, it’s much the same story, except that the limit is set at 250 people if reservations and an entrance-check (known as a triage) cannot be carried out. Again, the 1.5m distance must still be upheld. Both indoor and outdoor events still need to be approved by the municipality, which will check if it is possible for the 1.5m distance to be kept before giving the all-clear.
All seats can be filled on public transport
The second major change is about public transport. From July 1, all seating will become available again on public transport. A face mask will continue to be required. Public transport will also no longer be reserved only for necessary travel from 1 July as well. Passengers are encouraged to avoid the rush hour. People can also use all of the sitting space in taxis, again from July 1 onwards, with a reservation and a conversation to check if the customer is healthy.
Some other rules will also be relaxed from July 1 onwards: if you are travelling by car, you can now travel with people from outside your household. Passengers are encouraged to wear a face mask and the driver should ask if anyone has symptoms.
High schools, gyms reopen; nightclubs stay closed
High schools will be able to accept all students from July 1 onwards, as students no longer need to keep 1.5-metres distance from each other (though they should still keep the distance from teachers). Universities can also organise live education again, but the 1.5-metre distance must be maintained, as students are over 18 years of age.
Sex workers can also reopen for business from July 1. All sports are allowed from this date onwards. Gyms can reopen as well — with some conditions, and with a 1.5-metre distance.
The two big exceptions to these relaxations are discos and nightclubs, which will remain closed until at least September 1, when a decision will be taken again on whether they can reopen.
The Netherlands is now entering what is known as the “control phase”, where the RIVM will be keeping its finger on the pulse and monitoring all the relevant statistics to minimise the chance of a second wave. Rutte emphasised that this new phase means more self discipline will be required: “We’re getting flexibility because we’re keeping the distance.”
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Feature Image: Abuzer van Leeuwen/Supplied.