Plan to reopen society step by step

We’re at a crossroads. The number of infections in the Netherlands is still rising, as is the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals. On the other hand, more and more people are getting vaccinated. There will probably be far fewer COVID-19 patients in hospital in a few weeks’ time. We’re all eager for life to get back to normal. Pre-admission tests open up opportunities.

The government has now drafted a plan to reopen society safely, step by step. But it depends on fewer COVID-19 patients being admitted to hospital. It’s also important that everyone keeps following the basic rules. This means washing hands often, keeping your distance, getting tested and staying home when you have symptoms. This prevents infections and will help open up society more quickly.

Read this news item in Dutch on

All current measures apply until reopening plan gets underway

The first step of the reopening plan will not be taken until at least 28 April. All current measures will continue to apply until that time.

Out-of-school care centres (BSOs) will however reopen for all children as of 19 April. As stated last month, students in higher education (HBO institutions and universities) will be able to attend in-person classes one day per week as of 26 April, but only if the number of infections allows.

First step of the reopening plan

In the first step of the reopening plan, the evening curfew will be lifted and shops and outdoor seating areas at restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen, under certain conditions. In addition, people will be able to receive two visitors a day at home instead of one. It’s important to keep in mind that this first step will be taken no earlier than 28 April and only if there is a clear decrease in the number of COVID-19 patients being hospitalised. On 20 April the government will announce whether this step can go ahead on 28 April. 

Next steps

The second step will not be taken until at least 11 May and will again depend on a clear, continuing decline in the number of new hospital admissions of COVID-19 patients. This step will open up more opportunities for participating in sports, for example. A greater array of indoor venues, such as restaurants, cinemas and museums, will be allowed to resume their activities in the third step. But certain conditions will apply, such as a maximum number of visitors or guests. This number will be increased in the following steps. The reopening plan also shows what measures will be eased when. 

Pre-admission tests

Pre-admission tests will hopefully enable us to open up society more quickly. Pilots are currently underway to investigate how pre-admission tests can be used on a large scale in a safe and responsible way. For example, at more locations and at events. Exactly where that will be is still being worked out.


Vaccination is a key step towards getting life back to normal. The current prognosis is that by the beginning of July this year, everyone aged 18 or older who wants to be vaccinated will have received their first vaccine dose. To find out when you will be able to get vaccinated against coronavirus, click here. 

Basic rules

Following the basic rules helps protect yourself and others from a coronavirus infection, even if you’ve already been vaccinated.

  • Wash your hands.
    Good hygiene helps prevent the spread of the virus. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Do this often, and always when you come home or when you arrive at someone else’s home as a visitor. Touch your face as little as possible. Cough and sneeze into your elbow. Wear a face mask in indoor public spaces. This will help prevent the virus from spreading.
  • Stay 1.5 metres from other people.
    This includes relatives and friends. Not practising social distancing makes it easy for coronavirus to spread from one person to the next. That’s also why you should limit contact with other people and avoid busy places.
  • Get tested.
    If you have COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and get tested as soon as possible, even if your symptoms are only mild, like a runny nose. Stay at home while you are waiting for the result, to make sure you don’t infect anyone else.