Relaxing coronavirus measures: Has the Netherlands passed the peak?
For a number of weeks now, the Netherlands has been battling against a second coronavirus wave, with the Dutch government introducing increasingly drastic measures in an effort to halt the virus’ spread.
But as the numbers appear to be dropping (for now), what does that mean for the existing coronavirus measures?
The second wave and coronavirus measures in the Netherlands
The number of coronavirus infections has been steadily rising since early September, triggering a number of new measures from the Dutch government in an attempt to curtail the so-called second wave of the virus. Now, two months since new regional measures were announced to limit the virus’ spread, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge says the worst is behind us.
Speaking at a Facebook live Q&A session with Prime Minister Mark Rutte, De Jonge said: “What we have to do in the short term is ensure that we get the virus down together. Just for a while; we have really passed that peak.”
If the Netherlands has passed the peak, what does this mean for the plans for strict regional lockdowns that were announced at the press conference on November 3? De Jonge says a regional curfew is no longer necessary. And he expects libraries, cinemas, and museums will be able to reopen next week.
Restaurants to reopen for Christmas?
Rutte and his cabinet ministers have been in conversation with the union representing hospitality businesses, Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN), looking at ways it may be possible to reopen bars, restaurants and cafes (horeca) across the country for Christmas.
KHN chairman, Robèr Willemsen, attended a meeting with the prime minister on Wednesday, discussing the difficulties horeca faces now that they have been forced to close again. Willemsen also asked for more financial support to keep companies afloat.
Over the coming week, the cabinet plans on discussing when and how the current coronavirus measures can be relaxed. After their meeting, Willemsen said: “The prime minister stated in concrete terms that he will clarify during the week whether the catering industry can open during Christmas...The cabinet says it is really looking at what is possible in December, and I trust the prime minister to keep his word.”
A fine for failing to wear your face mask
For months, the government has resisted a mandatory face mask rule, but at the press conference on November 3, De Jonge announced face masks would be made mandatory in all public indoor areas, and that this rule would likely come into effect on December 1 at the latest.
Following a parliamentary debate on Tuesday, the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) agreed to a fine being introduced on December 1 for anyone who failed to wear a mask in public indoor areas. Those who fail to wear a mask will face a fine of 95 euros, but the misdemeanour will not be registered on a criminal record.
The fine and face mask rule can only be introduced once the controversial coronavirus law comes into effect on December 1.