A letter from the OMT (Outbreak Management Team) to the Ministry of Health, seen by NOS, has laid out the conditions necessary for relaxing the corona crisis rules: social isolation, schools being closed, contact businesses shut down, the 1.5m distance, and so on. 

The OMT is the main advisor to the government in this time of crisis. They recommend certain conditions be met before the country begins to resume normal life. One of these is that the infection rate needs to go below 1 for some time: basically, that means that each coronavirus patient needs to infect less than one person.

Healthcare system needs time to recover, more testing capacity needed

It is also important that we reach a point where the ICUs and the healthcare system in general is not “over requested”, and it must also be given some time to recover after the strain it has been under throughout the past weeks. Furthermore, there also needs to be an increase in testing capacity, as well as the possibility to trace contacts when someone is infected (along the lines of South Korea’s approach). Minister de Jonge gave us some details of how this approach will happen in practice yesterday evening, when he laid out the future deployment of two apps to test for and trace coronavirus.

This contact tracing approach is also what Germany has been doing. This seems to have paid off: they have far fewer deaths than the Netherlands. It was also the approach the Netherlands took at the beginning of the outbreak- testing people with complaints, tracing their contacts, etc- but very quickly the GGD became overwhelmed by the scale of the outbreak. It is hoped that the apps will help with this.

Rutte: keep obeying the rules

At the press conference yesterday evening, Rutte made it clear that indeed, normal life would be a while coming. He emphasised that the quickest way to get back to normality was for everyone to follow the rules closely for now: otherwise, we will quickly undo the good that has been done by social distancing.

Which rules will be eased first?

The government specifically asked the OMT for advice on when contact jobs could re-open for business: we’re talking about hairdressers and beauticians, for example. “The lifting of the ban on the practice of contact professions,” says the OMT, “is one of the measures expected to be eased first. It is too early to indicate when exactly that is possible.” The OMT also said specifically that the current regulations around air travel should not be changed at the moment.

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