Infections must decrease, appropriate measures needed

In recent weeks the number of coronavirus infections in the Netherlands has risen rapidly. More and more people are being admitted to hospital. The number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs is now growing and calculations show that numbers could increase further. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) expects a peak of 500 COVID-19 patients in ICUs this winter. To ensure that we can continue to provide everyone with the healthcare they need and protect the vulnerable groups in our society against the increased presence of coronavirus, the government is taking extra measures to slow down the rapid spread of the virus. In doing so, the government wants to keep society open as much and as safely as possible. These measures are in addition to the current rules, such as the closing times for hospitality venues and the 75% maximum capacity limit for indoor events without assigned seating.

Greater focus on the basic rules

First of all, it is important that everyone continues to follow the basic rules, even if they have been vaccinated. The better we do this together, the less the virus can spread and the fewer restrictive measures will be necessary. The basic rules have proved successful in preventing infections.

The basic rules:

  • Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms: stay at home and get tested by the municipal health service (GGD), even if you’ve been vaccinated.
  • If you test positive, stay at home and avoid contact with others, even if they have been vaccinated.
  • 1.5 metres is a safe distance. Protect yourself and others.
  • Don’t shake hands.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow.
  • Ensure a good flow of fresh air indoors.

Working from home and advice for travel

From 3 November 2021, the current advice for working from home will be tightened. From that date onwards, you should work from home for at least half of your normal hours. We know that working from home is an efficient way to combat the spread of coronavirus. It helps to reduce the frequency of contact between people.

If you do have to go to work or you go on a trip during your leisure time, avoid busy places while travelling and go outside peak hours.

Face masks mandatory in more places

From 6 November, face masks will be mandatory again at more locations. You must once again wear a face mask in all indoor public spaces where coronavirus entry passes are not required. This includes:

  • inside all buildings accessible to the public and in covered areas where coronavirus entry passes are not required, such as:
    • supermarkets, shops, libraries, play and gaming venues, amusement parks, etc.; 
  • on public transport, at stations (including shops at stations), on platforms and at bus and tram stops;
  • at airports and on aircraft;
  • when moving around secondary vocational schools (MBO) and higher education institutions (HBO and universities). You can take your face mask off when seated;
  • where necessary, in the case of contact-based professions. This applies to both the client and the service provider.

You must wear a face mask in these places. If you do not, you risked being fined €95.

Coronavirus entry pass required at more places

From 6 November, coronavirus entry passes will be required at more locations. Using the entry pass system reduces the likelihood of the virus circulating at these locations. Only admitting people who have recovered from COVID-19, have been vaccinated or have tested negative considerably lowers the risk of infection for all visitors. Although the system cannot rule out the possibility of becoming infected, it does ensure that people can come together as safely as possible. It also helps to keep most locations open at full capacity.

It is important that all locations where a coronavirus entry pass is required scan the pass and check the person’s ID. All visitors must show their personal QR code and a valid form of ID.

Coronavirus entry passes are required from 6 November: 

  • at establishments serving food and drinks, both indoors and in outdoor seating areas, except for takeaway;
  • at casinos;
  • at cultural locations such as theatres, music venues and cinemas;
  • at locations where there is a continuous flow of visitors in sectors where coronavirus entry passes are already required. This includes museums and historic buildings;
  • at events with a continuous flow of visitors who do not have an assigned seat, such as fun fairs and certain sports events;
  • at events such as festivals and live performances, whether or not visitors have an assigned seat;
  • at business events, such as trade fairs and conferences;
  • for spectators at professional and amateur sports matches and competitions. Spectators under the age of 18 at amateur sports matches and competitions are exempt from this requirement;
  • when taking part in organised sports activities from the age of 18. This includes gyms, group lessons, football and swimming. This applies to participants and spectators at all indoor and outdoor sports facilities, including sports canteens and clubhouses;
  • when taking part in artistic and cultural activities from the age of 18, such as music and painting lessons and singing, dance and theatre rehearsals.

Organised activities for children aged under 18 are exempt from the coronavirus entry pass requirement.

You can get a coronavirus entry pass if you are fully vaccinated, have valid proof of recovery or a negative result from a coronavirus test taken less than 24 hours before entry. For people without proof of vaccination or recovery, getting tested for entry will remain free of charge.

You can generate a coronavirus entry pass using the CoronaCheck app on your mobile phone. You can also show a coronavirus entry pass on paper. Staff at hospitality establishments and organisers of events, sports matches and cultural activities can download the CoronaCheck Scanner app, so that they can easily check the validity of entry passes.

Booster vaccinations

From December, booster vaccination rollout will begin for everyone aged 80 and over who can come to a GGD vaccination location. All adult residents aged 18 and over at care institutions that have their own medical service will also be offered a booster vaccination from that time. These people can get an extra dose on top of the two doses they have already received (or after one dose in the case of the Janssen vaccine) as additional protection against serious illness and hospitalisation. From January, people aged between 60 and 80 will be invited to receive a booster vaccination, with the oldest people in this group being invited first. From next month, a booster will also be offered to healthcare workers who have direct contact with patients.

Looking ahead

The government is preparing other measures that may need to be taken in the near future if we cannot curb the trend in infections. At locations where visitors are required to show a coronavirus entry pass, such as in the hospitality sector, the government wants employers to ask their employees to also show a coronavirus entry pass. In addition, we want to make it possible for employers in other sectors to opt for coronavirus entry passes. This option should also be open to the healthcare sector, for both staff and visitors. And finally, the government wants to be able to introduce coronavirus entry passes at other locations that large numbers of people visit on a daily basis, such as non-essential shops, as well as zoos and amusement parks. These measures must be able to be used specifically in towns and villages with a low vaccination rate and a high number of infections and hospital admissions.

These measures are being prepared in consultation with parties such as employers and employees. They also require parliamentary approval. The situation will be reassessed on 12 November following advice from the Outbreak Management Team (OMT).