It was revealed on Wednesday that the Dutch government has discussed potentially lifting a handful of coronavirus restrictions at the next press conference, so long as the number of infections doesn’t (sharply) rise over the coming days.
Dutch government planning to open shops and terraces
Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his cabinet are looking into a plan that would see shops and terraces reopen from April 21. It is likely that the national curfew could also be lifted before the end of the month. Other relaxations on the table include the reopening of colleges and universities, after-school care and the further opening of secondary schools, as well as potentially increasing the number of home visitors from one to two.
The plan was discussed on Wednesday by the Ministerial Committee on Corona Control (MCC), as well as the Security Council and mayors across the Netherlands. The Outbreak Management Team will be the next to look into the proposal and who will decide whether or not it is a responsible decision at this point in time. On Sunday, government ministers will once again meet at Rutte’s official residence in The Hague to discuss the national restrictions before the press conference on Tuesday.
Most coronavirus restrictions likely to be lifted before the summer
The government hopes to ease most restrictions before the summer, as temperatures and the number of people who have been vaccinated rises. However, basic rules such as maintaining 1,5-metre distance, washing your hands on a regular basis, and staying home if you’re showing symptoms of COVID-19 will remain in place.
According to sources in The Hague, the government’s first move will see restrictions eased in outdoor spaces – for example allowing restaurants and bars to open their terraces – as evidence shows there is a reduced risk of infection when outside.
De Jonge: Third wave seems better than was expected
Over recent weeks, the pressure on the government to lift certain measures has grown. Last weekend, the mayors of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague called on the government to reopen terraces.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge hopes to see the pressure on hospitals and the Dutch healthcare system ease next month, now that approximately six million people have either been vaccinated or have already had coronavirus: “We are working on a reopening plan to give people perspective towards the summer because we will be more protected. The third wave seems to be a bit better compared to the forecasts, but let’s not think that summer is almost here.”