The end of an era? These COVID-19 restrictions have come to an end
After two years of various coronavirus restrictions - a face mask mandate, a national curfew, the coronavirus certificate system - February 25 marks a significant milestone in the Netherlands’ battle against COVID-19, with the majority of restrictions coming to an end.
Vast majority of coronavirus measures lifted on February 25
There have been many ups and downs since the outbreak of COVID-19 back in March 2020, but as was announced at the press conference on February 15, the Netherlands is waving goodbye to most of the remaining restrictions.
As the third stage of the Dutch government's three-part plan for reopening the country, these coronavirus restrictions have been lifted:
- The 1,5-metre distance rule: It’s been around since the first coronavirus press conference, and it’s been impossible to avoid the stickers and posters everywhere reminding people to houd afstand, but as of Friday the 1,5-metre distance rule will no longer be enforced.
- The face mask mandate: Whether you favour the disposable medical masks or your personalised cloth mask, the face mask mandate for public indoor areas has been lifted.
- The quarantine mandate: While someone who tests positive for COVID-19 is still required to isolate, travellers arriving in the Netherlands from high-risk areas outside of the EU / Schengen area will no longer be required to quarantine for at least five days upon arrival.
- The coronavirus certificate system: It’s faced significant backlash since first being introduced last summer, but the coronavirus certificate system, also known as the government’s 3G policy, has come to an end. However, COVID-19 certificates will not disappear entirely, as they’ll still be required for international travel, and anyone going to large indoor event (i.e. a concert or nightclub) will have to abide by 1G rules and present a recent negative test.
- Enforced closing times: The enforced closing times for the hospitality, cultural, and events industries have officially been lifted. Bars, cinemas, theatres, restaurants, and various other venues and businesses across the Netherlands will no longer have to close their doors at 10pm.
Dutch government to reassess rules on March 15
While the vast majority of restrictions are lifting on February 25, the so-called basic rules will remain in place for the time being, as will a handful of other measures:
- Face masks remain mandatory on public transport and at airports
- Those who test positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate for five days
- While no longer asked to work from home as much as possible, people in the Netherlands are now expected to work from home at least 50 percent of the time
The Dutch government has also emphasised that many people may feel safer if they continue to wear a mask and keep their distance from others, and are able to continue to do so regardless of the national rules.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his cabinet ministers will reassess the coronavirus situation on March 15 and will decide whether any additional measures can be lifted.
New booster and COVID-19 vaccination rules
In addition to the disappearance of a number of restrictions, this week Health Minister Ernst Kuipers announced the expansion of the government’s vaccination policy. As was outlined in the advice from the Health Council of the Netherlands, from February 26, citizens over the age of 70, nursing home and care home residents, and adults with Down syndrome or a severe immune disorder will be invited to receive a second booster shot.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Health has announced that young people between the ages of 12 and 17 will also be invited to receive their booster shot. It has not yet been announced when the vaccination invites will be issued.