No restrictions for on-site learning but other measures against COVID-19 extended
This week saw the 22 millionth dose of vaccine administered. The Netherlands now has high vaccination coverage and the figure is continuing to rise on a daily basis. Nevertheless, a greater increase is still needed. There are still an estimated 1.8 million people who have not built up immunity, either through vaccination or through infection. Fortunately, the tide turned quickly on the fourth wave of infections, and the number of hospital and ICU admissions is not expected to increase further. This shows just how important vaccination is. However, the current favourable outlook is no guarantee for low infection rates in the autumn and winter.
The government has therefore decided to take a careful, step-by-step approach to lifting the 1.5 metre rule. From 30 August social distancing will no longer be required at secondary vocational schools (MBOs), higher professional education institutions (HBOs) and universities. All other measures currently in place will be extended until 19 September inclusive. On 17 September, the government will assess whether it is possible to take the next step.
30 August: 1.5 metre rule to be lifted in MBO and higher education settings
In the new academic year, students can attend on-site teaching at MBOs, HBOs and universities. The 1.5 metre rule will no longer apply here. There will, however, be a number of additional conditions in place to ensure on-site learning can take place in a responsible way. This includes a maximum group size of 75 people and the use of facemasks outside lessons and lectures. Preventative self-testing is still strongly advised.
It is in students’ best interests to be taught on site. Lifting the 1.5 metre rule will help ensure the new academic year gets off to the best possible start.
Other measures extended
All other measures will be extended until 19 September inclusive. In restaurants, bars and cafés, guests must have an assigned seat and these establishments must still close at midnight. Live and screened entertainment is not permitted. Nightclubs and similar venues will remain closed. The measures in place for events will also be extended. The credit guarantee scheme for events and supplementary compensation scheme for events will therefore be extended until 19 September inclusive. The advice to work from home as much as possible and to avoid travelling at peak times will remain in force.
Free-of-charge testing for people travelling abroad will be extended until 30 September inclusive. Appointments can be made through Testenvoorjereis.nl (choose English).
Intended from 20 September: 1.5 metre rule to be lifted everywhere
The government plans to lift the 1.5 metre rule across the rest of society from 20 September. Most other restrictions will also be lifted at the same time. Nightclubs and similar venues will still remain closed at this stage, however.
From 20 September the coronavirus entry pass system must be used at restaurants, cafés, bars, events (such as festivals and sports events with spectators) and cultural venues (such as cinemas and theatres) where more than 75 people are present. This applies both indoors and outdoors, regardless of whether guests have an assigned seat. People can generate a coronavirus entry pass if they have been fully vaccinated, have valid proof of recovery or have a negative test result for a test taken less than 24 hours before entry to the venue in question. People who need a negative test result to create an entry pass can currently get tested for free. From a date yet to be determined they will have to pay a contribution towards the cost of their test.
Before taking the decision to lift the 1.5 metre rule in MBO, HBO and university settings, the government asked the Outbreak Management Team to issue an advisory opinion. It will do the same before deciding whether or not to take the next step in September. Vaccination coverage and the infection rate will be decisive in this regard.
The government hopes it will be possible to stop using the coronavirus entry pass system within the Netherlands and to lift remaining restrictions as of 1 November.
Getting vaccinated without an appointment
The government is doing its utmost to make getting vaccinated against coronavirus as simple as possible. At a number of municipal health service (GGD) vaccination centres it is now possible to get a first dose without an appointment. An overview of these walk-in vaccination centres is available on Prikkenzonderafspraak.nl.
Basic rules still apply
Following the basic rules remains as important as ever, even if you have been vaccinated. This means staying 1.5 metres away from others (until this rule is lifted), washing your hands, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, staying at home and getting tested if you have symptoms and ensuring a good flow of fresh air indoors.
High vaccination coverage does not mean coronavirus has gone away. It will continue to circulate in the Netherlands and elsewhere, and new variants may develop. That’s why it is important that everyone who has symptoms gets tested, even if they have already been vaccinated. This will allow us to keep track of the virus and stay alert to any sudden increases in the infection rate.