Regaining control over coronavirus with local measures
The Netherlands’ approach is aimed at keeping coronavirus under control as much as possible in order to protect vulnerable groups and make sure the healthcare system can cope. In the run-up to summer, we saw how important it is to keep following the measures in place. The number of cases fell and, as a result, we were able to gradually relax measures.
Fortunately, many people are still complying with the basic rules. However, there are also lots of people who are not. This is a cause for concern and is reflected in the recent outbreaks that have been seen. If we cannot all work together to turn the tide, we run the risk of losing control over the virus again. We will also lose the progress we have achieved together over the past few months.
As a result, the government will be supporting local authorities in taking additional action to get coronavirus under control where necessary. This can include introducing extra, local measures in addition to the national measures already in place. We will also be implementing and strengthening certain nationwide measures.
These are the new nationwide measures:
- Educational institutions should hold orientation activities online wherever possible. In-person activities can only take place in small groups and must be informative in nature.
Study associations (‘studieverenigingen’) and student sports clubs can only hold in-person activities if these are necessary to introduce students to their chosen programme of study or sport. Such activities can only take place in small groups and must end by 22.00 at the latest. No alcohol may be consumed.
The governing body of the educational institution in question and the head of the relevant safety region must give permission for such activities to take place. Student societies (‘studentenverenigingen’) are not permitted to hold in-person recruitment or orientation activities.
- Restaurants, cafés and bars must use reservations (made either in advance or at the door), pre-entry health checks and assigned seating (at either a table or the bar). This applies both outdoors and indoors and regardless of the size of the establishment. Customers must be asked to provide their names and contact details so that the municipal health service (GGD) can contact them if an outbreak is traced to that establishment. Customers can voluntarily provide this information.
- If a GGD traces an outbreak to a leisure establishment (for example a cinema, café, amusement park, theater or museum), the head of the safety region can close that establishment for up to 14 days.
- Test centres will be created for travellers arriving in the Netherlands from high-risk areas. The first test centre will be at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, with other locations following in due course. Travellers can get tested on arrival and must then self-quarantine at home. Travellers who do not get tested upon arrival, must self-quarantine for 14 days.
- The heads of safety regions can now take steps to prevent coronavirus hotspots emerging and to gain control of these local outbreaks. These local and regional measures are intended to make sure people comply with the basic rules and to prevent overcrowding so that the virus cannot spread further.
The measures safety regions can take include:
- limiting the opening times of eating and drinking establishments
- introducing behavioural measures such as making face masks mandatory in outdoor locations
- closing places like parks or shopping centres
- closing off parking facilities, for example at beaches or in city centres
- managing crowds and traffic flow in busy areas
- enforcing the basic rules and ensuring compliance with sector-specific agreements
- banning large-scale gatherings, for example banning spectators at football matches or sports training sessions
They will also enforce rules more strictly where necessary.
Control over the virus
The most important thing is that we get the virus under control again. It is vital that we stay 1.5 metres away from others and continue to follow the basic rules, including at home. Especially at home, in fact. Don’t have more visitors than your home can accommodate under the 1.5 metre rule. Make sure your visitors follow the basic hygiene rules. Don’t hug each other and don’t sit next to each other on the sofa. Lots of people with coronavirus caught it at home or at someone else’s home.
Finally, everyone with symptoms should stay at home and get tested. This will help prevent the majority of further infections. If you test positive, the GGD will carry out source and contact tracing. This will allow us to gain a clearer picture of the virus in the Netherlands, so we can take fast, targeted action to prevent it spreading further.