Amsterdam mayor: Relax coronavirus measures for young people
Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema has called on the Dutch government to prioritise the freedom of young people when it comes to relaxing coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands.
Halsema: Lift coronavirus restrictions for 18 to 25-year-olds
As the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 grows and the number of infections and deaths continues to fall, many people are looking to the government for answers as to when they can look forward to living under fewer coronavirus restrictions. While people of all age groups are surely hoping for a coronavirus-free world, a number of people have highlighted the severe impact of the pandemic and consequent measures on the freedoms and mental health of younger generations.
In a manifesto, the mayor of Amsterdam, together with six other experts, has therefore outlined a plan for prioritising the freedoms of people between the ages of 18 and 25 when it comes to lifting national restrictions. Among other things, the group argues for the extension of the age limit for organised outdoor sports from 18 to 25 and using rapid coronavirus tests on young people in order to allow them to resume their usual activities with minimal risk to their health.
Young people in the Netherlands are suffering
While Halsema said she recognised the need for the curfew and restrictions, she said the younger generation was suffering the most at the moment: “Young people have a very difficult time,” she explained, “They have no school, no work, the community centres are closed and they are not allowed on the street... you will get complaints such as depression and loneliness.” She also wants to consider options for vaccinating young people sooner rather than later.
In addition to Halsema, the manifesto was signed by the chairman of the Council of Health and Society, the chairman of the Social and Economic Council, the chairman of the National Youth Council, the director of Amsterdam’s OLVG hospital, a professor of polarisation and resilience at VU, and a professor of pedagogy.
Dutch government looking into options for younger generations
The Dutch government had already released a plan for the order in which coronavirus restrictions will be lifted in the Netherlands, but the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) has called on the cabinet to provide more clarity as to which goals need to be reached before measures can be eased.
In response to Halsema’s manifesto, the cabinet has said it will look into what options there are for young people and whether there is room to relax certain restrictions. Several ministers have responded positively to Halsema’s plan, but Health Minister Hugo de Jonge did point out that other groups, such as the elderly and entrepreneurs, were also struggling as a result of the crisis: “That is precisely one of the topics that we will discuss... How can we provide support to certain groups suffering from the corona measures?"
A few measures have already been relaxed - primary schools and daycare centres have reopened, and shops have reopened for click and collect - but most are remaining in place until March 2. The next government press conference is scheduled for February 23.