OMT: Don’t travel internationally over the Christmas period
The Outbreak Management Team (OMT) has issued negative travel advice for all international travel over the Christmas period and school holidays.
OMT travel advise for the Christmas holidays
The OMT has acted as the primary advisor to the Dutch government throughout the ongoing coronavirus crisis, and is chaired by the director of the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) Centre for Infectious Disease Control. On Wednesday morning, the OMT issued their latest advice.
The advice highlights the fact that over the summer a number of people travelled outside of the Netherlands, returning to the country infected with COVID-19. They also acknowledge that a number of countries across Europe are also experiencing a second wave of the virus. They therefore state that, as long as the coronavirus situation abroad doesn’t significantly change over the coming weeks, all international travel is advised against.
As for travel within the Netherlands, the OMT asks members of the public to only go on holiday with other members of the same household and / or in very small groups. They also ask people to keep family visits during the festive season to “a minimum and immediate family.”
RIVM advises preparing for a smaller Christmas
In an interview with the AD, Jacco Wallinga, chief modeller for the RIVM, said the Netherlands seemed to be approaching the peak of the second wave, but advised people to prepare for an unusual Christmas.
“You would like to be able to promise a typical Christmas, with entire families around the tree, but that is difficult,” Wallinga said. “I say prepare for unconventional Christmas where you can't see everyone you would like to see.” He stated that, even if the country was approaching the peak and infection rates began to decrease, hospitalisations will still be high in December: “The virus will still not have disappeared.”
Rutte and De Jonge’s press conference
On Tuesday evening, marking two weeks since the new coronavirus measures and semi-lockdown was announced on October 13, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge held a small press conference in The Hague to update the public on the current situation, and let them know that no further measures would be introduced at this time.
De Jonge announced that the semi-lockdown, which was initially only planned to last until November 11, will now stay in place until at least December. Rutte said that not enough time had passed to determine whether the current measures were effective, and so it was too early to re-open or introduce stricter measures, but he did state that all options were still on the table.
Rutte also addressed concerns for Sinterklaas and Christmas celebrations, saying: “For the time being, assume that you cannot celebrate that big, but only in your own circle with three guests.” He also recommended limiting travel during December, saying further travel advice and information in regards to the Christmas period will follow shortly - likely within the coming week.
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