Dutch government’s plan for lifting coronavirus lockdown
Back in October 2020, a so-called roadmap of the government’s plans for future coronavirus measures in the Netherlands leaked, revealing which restrictions would be introduced if the number of infections continued to rise.
New roadmap for lifting Dutch coronavirus lockdown
If this downward trend continues into February, the cabinet’s priority will be to reopen primary schools and childcare facilities to all children - not just children of key workers. The next step will be to lift the national curfew. Only then will secondary schools be allowed to reopen, followed by shops and contact professions (i.e. hairdressers). While the cabinet is making plans to lift the lockdown, there is still no indication of when the restrictions will be lifted.
The Dutch government is set to further discuss this plan on Friday. Of course, it is possible that this plan will change, and it is worth noting that the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) would like to see the cabinet take a different approach. The experts suggest waiting slightly longer before lifting the restrictions and then lifting multiple restrictions in one go. On Friday, the OMT will also meet to discuss the spread of the British variant, the possibility of opening primary schools on February 9, and the impact the national curfew has had on the spread of COVID-19.
While the number of cases does appear to be falling, the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) notes that the Netherlands is still in the “very serious” phase (number of new infections is high, strict national measures are necessary) with an average of 4.700 new infections reported every day.
Will the new and controversial curfew have any effect?
Since the national curfew came into effect on January 23, towns and cities across the country have faced protests and riots. While the Dutch police had said the unrest could last for weeks, on Wednesday, (riot) police encountered the first quiet night since Saturday.
In spite of the fact that many had discussed taking to the streets again on social media, streets across the Netherlands were quiet. 25 arrests were made in Rotterdam, mostly due to people failing to adhere to the curfew or show legitimate ID, and local police called it a “manageable evening.” One 14-year-old was arrested on suspicion of arson after a fire was set in Rotterdam’s Plaswijckpark.
While the unrest seems to have settled (for now), there are still concerns as to whether the 9pm to 4.30am curfew will have any effect. In France, where a 6pm to 6am curfew has been in place nationally for at least two weeks, the government has acknowledged the measure is having little to no effect: “There is an effect, but it is not enough... The number of infections is high, increasing, and the pressure on hospitals is increasing,” spokesperson Gabriel Attal told the local media. It’s left to be seen whether the Dutch curfew will have a similar effect.