Coronavirus press conference: Some relaxations announced, curfew extended
At the press conference on February 23, acting Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge announced further relaxations for some coronavirus measures, but confirmed that the national curfew and majority of restrictions would remain in place until (at least) March 15.
Dutch coronavirus press conference
Rutte said that, almost exactly a year after the first coronavirus case was reported in the Netherlands, the country was "on the road to better times," with more freedom and fewer restrictions. However, he once again said the country was likely headed to what experts are calling an inevitable third wave.
He acknowledged that, while the restrictions were (still) necessary, the economic and psychological impacts of the various restrictions were only growing. He said the cabinet, therefore, felt it was time to take some risks and ease some of the national restrictions.
Some relaxations for schools and hairdressers
As was widely expected, Rutte announced some long-awaited relaxations for secondary schools and contact professions in the Netherlands:
- Secondary schools and special schools to partially reopen (March 1)
- Team sports for everyone under 27 (March 3)
- Contact professions (i.e. hairdressers) to resume work (March 3)
- Shops to open for appointments (March 3)
At the last press conference, Rutte announced that primary schools and daycare centres would reopen. Now, secondary schools have been granted similar freedoms and will be able to partially reopen, with students attending in-person classes one or two days per week, and several safety measures in place. In addition to this, outdoor team sports activities will resume for all those under the age of 27.
Hairdressers will also reopen next week, but will have to adhere to strict health and safety measures. For example, health checks will be carried out before / upon arrival, and salons will only be able to work on appointments (no walk-ins). This relaxation will also see other contact professions resume as beauticians, tattoo artists, driving instructors, etc. return to work. Brothels will remain closed for the time being.
Finally, non-essential shops have also been granted some additional freedoms. After the press conference on February 2, they were allowed to open for click and collect. Now, customers will be able to shop by appointment from March 3, as long as the appointment is made at least four hours in advance. Two customers will be allowed in a shop at a time, for a maximum of 10 minutes.
Semi-lockdown extended until March 24
While the Dutch government seems to be trying to allow for more freedom in the Netherlands, it has decided to keep many restrictions in place for the time being. The following restrictions will remain in place until (at least) March 15:
- 9pm to 4.30am curfew
- All bars, restaurants, and cafes are closed (open for take-away)
- Coffee shops are closed (open for take-away until 8pm)
- Sale of alcohol banned after 8pm
- Universities are closed
- Museums are closed
- Cinemas are closed
- Zoos are closed
- Theatres are closed
- Casinos are closed
- Theme parks are closed
- Public swimming pools and saunas are closed
- Gyms and other indoor sports facilities are closed
- Libraries are closed (open for pick-up)
- Brothels are closed
- Max. one household guest per day (excl. children under 13)
- When outside, max. group size of two (if not from the same household)
- Stay home, work from home, and limit travel as much as possible
- If you're showing symptoms then stay home
- A ban on all events (excl. demonstrations)
- Do not travel internationally
- Wear a mask in all indoor public areas and on public transport
The government will review the restrictions and the coronavirus situation in the Netherlands over the coming weeks, with the next press conference scheduled for March 8.