Cabinet hopeful about lifting coronavirus restrictions on April 28
According to the government’s five-step plan for lifting the national coronavirus lockdown, several restrictions should be eased from April 28. While last week Prime Minister Mark Rutte had said he wasn’t feeling optimistic about April 28, members of his cabinet have said there are “positive signs” that restrictions could be lifted next week.
Dutch PM cautious about plan to lift coronavirus restrictions
The plan outlined by the Dutch government at last week’s press conference states that April 28 should hopefully see shops and terraces open, as well as the lifting of the curfew and easing of the household guests rule. While this gave many across the Netherlands hope that the end of lockdown might finally be in sight, at a parliamentary debate on Friday, Rutte said the dates outlined in the plan were not concrete, and that it was possible that restrictions may not be lifted before mid-May.
He met with cabinet ministers and members of the Outbreak Management Team at his official residence in The Hague on Sunday to discuss coronavirus in the Netherlands and the possibilities for lifting restrictions. Rutte may be hesitant, but his cabinet ministers seem optimistic.
Cabinet ministers feel positive about April 28
According to insiders, those in attendance at the meeting felt that, over the past few days, figures showed that the coronavirus situation was progressing more favourably than had been expected. While a final decision about the lockdown is yet to be made - that won’t happen until April 20 - ministers are feeling positive about the chance that shops and terraces will be able to reopen, and it looks certain that Dutch higher education will partially reopen on April 26.
Hubert Bruls, mayor of Nijmegen and chairman of the Security Council, has also asked the government to stop postponing the reopening: “We will plead during the Security Council on Monday evening to take steps on that first date, 28 April,” he said on Sunday morning. He would especially like to see terraces reopen, highlighting the lockdown's negative economic and social impact.
This new-found optimism can most likely be attributed to recent development about coronavirus hospital admissions: director of the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM), Jaap van Dissel, has said that it seems as though there is a “levelling off” in admissions, which may indicate that the peak of the third wave has passed. It is expected that Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge will once again address the public in a coronavirus press conference on Tuesday.