Dutch government to discuss COVID-19 rules after OMT says some restrictions should stay
EDIT: On Tuesday afternoon, Health Minister Ernst Kuipers announced that some restrictions would be relaxed as of Wednesday, March 23. Click here for the latest coronavirus news.
As the Dutch government discusses potentially lifting all remaining coronavirus restrictions, the latest advice from the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) outlines the importance of face masks in limiting the spread of COVID-19 and encourages the cabinet not to rush into lifting the basic rules.
OMT argues some restrictions should remain in effect for now
Tuesday afternoon will see cabinet ministers meet to discuss the next potential stage of relaxations after rumours emerged last week that the government was looking to scrap the remaining restrictions before the end of March - but only if the OMT advice supported the decision.
The advice published by the OMT on Monday evening states that most of the remaining rules should remain in place for the time being, and urges Health Minister Ernst Kuipers to encourage people to continue to partially work from home as the Netherlands faces the risk of the new Omicron sub-variant (BA.2).
"It is expected that the number of hospital admissions will increase in the coming week,” the OMT writes. “This again means that increased pressure on healthcare can be expected for a period of several weeks."
1G policy and fit-to-fly test rule likely to be abolished
While the experts would like to see the quarantine and isolation rules remain in place, their advice does state that the so-called 1G rules - where a negative COVID-19 test is mandatory for attendees of large non-seated events - is no longer needed. Neither is the fit-to-fly test for travellers arriving in the Netherlands from outside of the EU.
Furthermore, while members of the OMT maintain that the face mask mandate on public transport has “added value,” and “protects the vulnerable and gives them the opportunity to travel responsibly,” they ultimately agree that the final decision is up to the cabinet.
Dutch Health Minister to announce decision on Tuesday
A final decision on the next stage of relaxations is expected to be announced on Tuesday afternoon, however, no televised coronavirus press conference has been planned. Instead, Kuipers will confirm the cabinet’s decision to the Dutch press in a low-key “press moment” in The Hague.
In recent weeks, the Netherlands has faced a rapidly rising number of COVID-19 infections, but the latest figures from the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) show that this trend might be stagnating. Around 46.000 new infections were reported on Monday, the lowest figure seen since March 1.