Second step of reopening plan confirmed

The numbers of new ICU and hospital admissions for COVID-19 have continued to fall. This means the government’s decision to take the second step of the plan to reopen society on 19 May is final. The government will not press the ‘pause’ button. 

As of Wednesday 19 May, indoor sports facilities will reopen and people will once again be able to visit outdoor leisure locations like amusement parks, open air museums and open air theatres. People from the same household or up to 2 people from different households (not counting children under 13) can attend these locations together. Outdoor seating areas at restaurants, bars and cafés can also be open longer, from 06.00 to 20.00. Find out here what other measures are being lifted or relaxed as of 19 May

Public libraries will reopen on 20 May. Initially, they had not been mentioned in step 2 of the reopening plan but the government has decided to now include them. Reservations and a health check are mandatory. 

Hospital admissions and the ‘pause’ button

Last week, the government announced its intention to take the second step of the reopening plan on 19 May. But it also said that it would press the ‘pause’ button and postpone the second step if the numbers of new ICU and hospital admissions had not fallen sufficiently by Monday. This will not be necessary, as the numbers of new ICU and hospital admissions have fallen by more than 20% compared to the peak on 20 and 21 April. 

Next steps

Today the government also presented a new timetable for the rest of the reopening plan. It shows what the next steps are and when they can be taken, if the numbers allow. The third step will not be taken until 9 June at the earliest. We will find out on 1 June whether this is possible. 

Pre-admission tests

Pre-admission tests could provide more scope for large-scale events or competitions, cultural locations and establishments serving food and drink. They would be able to reopen sooner or admit larger numbers of people, without compromising on safety. People would be able to get a pre-admission test free of charge at designated test locations. Before gaining admission they would have to show the negative test result. Seven new testing organisations are currently building a nationwide pre-admission testing infrastructure. It can start up as soon as the bill on pre-admission testing becomes law. Parliament has already approved the bill, which is scheduled to be debated in the Senate on 25 May. 
Various new pilots are being held as of this week, so that the testing organisations can practise their procedures and prepare for scaling them up so they can be implemented at national level. The pilots include sports competitions and a cultural festival. 

Crowds and basic rules

As society gradually reopens, it’s vital that we still avoid busy places. If a place is too busy and you are unable to stay 1.5 metres from others, leave. It’s also important that everyone keeps following the basic rules, even people who have been vaccinated. This means avoiding busy places, washing your hands, keeping your distance, and staying at home and getting tested if you have any symptoms. It’s also important to get vaccinated as soon as you can.