3 steps to reopen the Netherlands

COVID-19 infection rates are high, and many people are self-isolating or self-quarantining at home. But despite the high number of cases, hospital admissions remain stable. We are more resistant to the virus due to vaccinations, booster shots and acquired immunity. So the Netherlands is going to open up. Not all at once, but in 3 stages. Each stage is a big step towards full reopening, and the steps will follow each other in rapid succession.

Step 1: effective immediately

Effective immediately the recommendation to receive no more than 4 visitors a day is cancelled. The advice on working from home as much as possible is changed to a recommendation to work no more than half the time at the office.

Step 2: 18 February

From Friday 18 February all locations in the Netherlands will be allowed to stay open until 01.00. Until 25 February, the coronavirus entry pass (3G) must be shown at locations where this is currently mandatory, such as restaurants, bars, cinemas, theatres and music venues and at professional sporting events. Once you are inside any of these locations, the rules on assigned seating, wearing a face mask and keeping 1.5 metres apart will no longer apply and capacity will no longer be limited. At locations accommodating more than 500 people, however, assigned seating and face masks will still be mandatory. The recommended period of self-isolation after a positive test result will be shortened to 5 days, but you must be symptom-free for at least 24 hours before you stop self-isolating.

Step 3: 25 February

On Friday 25 February we will take the final step. From then, opening times will return to normal and we will lift the following requirements: showing a coronavirus entry pass (3G) at locations accommodating fewer than 500 people, staying 1.5 metres apart, wearing face masks while walking around bars and restaurants, schools and shops, having a limited number of visitors, and assigned seating in bars, restaurants and other venues. That means that large night clubs, discotheques, festivals and events can open up without limitations. At indoor locations accommodating more than 500 people where there is no assigned seating, for example night clubs and festivals, everyone must show a negative test result. This does not apply at events where there is a continuous flow of visitors, such as trade fairs and conferences. To ensure that vulnerable people are able to travel safely, the requirement to wear a face mask on public transport and at airports will remain in force even after 25 February.

On 15 March the government will evaluate the remaining rules including the face mask requirement for public transport, the pre-admission testing requirement (1G) and the advice on working from home.

All the rules, recommendations and conditions are explained in more detail at government.nl/coronavirus.

Moving on together: recommendations for everyone

After nearly 2 years’ experience dealing with coronavirus, we have learned how difficult it is to cope with the measures that restrict us in our daily lives. And with the relaxation of the measures. So we need to stay vigilant and help each other so that we avoid infecting others. The virus is still among us. So it is advisable for everyone to keep following the recommendations that have proven effective in limiting the spread of the virus: washing your hands, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, not shaking hands, keeping your distance and wearing a face mask in crowded places, making sure there is plenty of fresh air, self-testing regularly, getting tested when you have symptoms, getting vaccinated and getting a booster shot.


The self-isolation recommendation will be relaxed as of Friday 18 February. The minimum period of isolation will be shortened from 7 days to 5 days (if you are symptom-free for 24 hours). You should still self-isolate after a positive test, even if you have had a booster vaccine. This will prevent you from infecting the people you live with and others. If you have tested positive and have symptoms of COVID-19, the self-isolation period begins from the time you developed symptoms. If you test positive but do not have symptoms, the period starts on the test date. 

For the most recent self-isolation and quarantine rules and to get personal advice based on your situation, visit: quarantainecheck.rijksoverheid.nl/en.

Travelling abroad

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will no longer issue travel advisories based solely on a country’s coronavirus situation. Instead it will once again take all security and health risks into consideration. This means that travel outside Europe will soon become easier. From 25 February, travellers arriving in the Netherlands will no longer be required to self-quarantine.

The advice to travellers remains to prepare well before travelling. Coronavirus has not gone away. And measures still apply abroad. This includes mandatory testing, QR codes and face masks. Read the full travel advisory for your country of destination on NederlandWereldwijd.nl (in Dutch) or in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Travel App (Reisapp) before you plan your trip, again right before you leave and during your travels.

Visual aids used by health minister Ernst Kuipers

During the press conference, health minister Ernst Kuipers used various visual aids to explain:

  • the increase in the number of positive tests since January. It appears that we are past the peak;
  • that hospital admissions are stable, despite the high number of cases;
  • the 3 steps for reopening the Netherlands;
  • which recommendations are important for everyone.