The approach to tackling coronavirus in the Netherlands

We need everyone in the Netherlands to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. The Netherlands’ approach is essentially to control the virus as much as possible in order to protect vulnerable groups. When people don’t have physical contact, they cannot infect others and coronavirus does not spread.

The aim is to ensure that all patients can receive the medical care they need. That is why we want to prevent nursing homes, homecare organisations, hospitals and intensive care units from becoming overwhelmed. There must always be sufficient capacity to help the people who are most vulnerable.

The measures to control the virus as much as possible apply until 28 April (inclusive). Sports facilities and establishments serving food and drink will remain closed until 28 April. Schools will remain closed until after the May holidays. Events that require a permit are banned until 1 June 2020.

Below is an overview of the measures, divided into 3 categories: health, public life and additional measures in place to ensure that we, as a society, get through this period.

Health advice for everyone

  • Wash your hands
    • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 second, then dry them thoroughly
    • Wash your hands often: before you go out, when you come home, after blowing your nose, before meals and of course after going to the toilet.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow
  • Use paper tissues to blow your nose and discard them after use
    • Then wash your hands
  • Do not shake hands
  • Stay 1.5 metres (2 arms lengths) away from other people when you are outside, in shops and at work
    • The physical distancing rule does not apply to family members or other people that you live with
    • Keeping a distance of 1.5 metres reduces the chance of people infecting each other
  • Everyone in the Netherlands should stay at home as much as possible. Work at home if possible. Go outside only when you need to: to buy groceries, to walk the dog, to get some fresh air, or when you need to run an errand or care for someone else. If you must leave your house, go alone as much as possible and stay 1.5 metres away from others. People who work in crucial sectors and critical processes can go to work if they cannot work at home.
  • Even if you have mild cold symptoms, such as a sore throat, a mild cough or a temperature below 38 degrees Celsius, you should stay at home. Do not go out to buy groceries and don’t have any visitors. Have others do the shopping for you, or have your groceries delivered. Ask someone else to walk the dog. Household members without symptoms can follow the rules that apply to everyone in the Netherlands (see above). If you feel better and have not had any symptoms for 24 hours, you can go outside again. This restriction does not apply to people working in crucial sectors and critical processes. They can go to work unless they develop shortness of breath and/or a fever above 38 degrees Celsius. Talk to your employer if you are in any doubt.
  • People with a cold and a fever (above 38 degrees Celsius) and/or shortness of breath should stay at home. Do not go out to buy groceries and don’t have any visitors. Others in your household should stay at home too. Only household members with no symptoms may do shopping. This restriction does not apply to people working in crucial sectors and critical processes. They can go to work unless they develop shortness of breath and/or a fever above 38 degrees Celsius. Talk to your employer if you are in any doubt. When household members have not had symptoms for 24 hours, they can go outside again.
  • Vulnerable groups. People older than 70 and people with chronic health conditions are at higher risk of severe coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Do you fall in one of these groups? Stay at home, receive as few visitors as possible and stay 1.5 metres away from others. You can still stay in touch with people by phone or in other ways.

Public life

Stay home as much as possible, also during Easter weekend

  • Have as few visitors as possible (no more than 3)
  • Always stay 1.5 metres away from one another

Only go outside if you really need to:

  • For work (if you cannot work from home)
  • To buy groceries 
  • To take care of someone or to get some fresh air.

Always stay 1.5 metres away from one another.

  • Don’t visit people over 70 or anyone with a medical condition.
    • Don’t visit anyone if you have cold-like symptoms
  • If you go outside, stay 1.5 metres away from others (this does not apply to people who are members of the same household and children aged 12 and under).
    • The authorities will take action against groups of more than 2 people who are not keeping a 1.5 metre distance from one another.
  • All bars, cafés and restaurants are closed until 28 April (inclusive). Meal delivery and takeaway services will remain open. However, people are advised to avoid queues, stand well apart and eat their takeaway meal at home, not on the premises. Coffee shops can stay open for collection of orders.
  • Casinos, sports clubs, gyms, saunas and sex clubs are closed until 28 April (inclusive).
  • All those in contact-based roles must stop performing their jobs until 28 April (inclusive), unless it is possible to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from clients at all times. This includes masseurs, hairdressers, nail stylists, escorts and driving instructors. An exception has been made for those providing treatment in medical or paramedical roles, but only if there is a specific medical reason and the relevant hygiene measures are taken.
  • Schools and childcare centres are closed. If necessary, schools will be open to allow pupils to sit final exams. Universities and institutions of higher professional education (HBO) are also closed. All education is provided via distance learning. Schools are open for children of key workers in crucial sectors and critical processes and for vulnerable children.
  • Events that require a permit are banned until 1 June 2020.
  • Other types of gatherings are banned until 28 April 2020 inclusive. However, there are several exceptions. These are:
    • funerals and marriage ceremonies. These gatherings must not exceed 30 people and participants must stay at least 1.5 metres away from one another;
    • religious or ideological gatherings. These gatherings must not exceed 30 people and participants must stay at least 1.5 metres away from one another;
    • gatherings that are required by law, such as parliamentary and municipal council meetings and some shareholders meetings. These gatherings must not exceed 100 people and participants must stay at least 1.5 metres away from one another;
    • gatherings that are necessary to ensure the continued daily operation of institutions, businesses and other organisations. These gatherings must not exceed 100 people and participants must stay at least 1.5 metres away from one another.

The gatherings listed above can only take place if all recommended measures to combat the spread of coronavirus are taken and participants stay 1.5 metres away from one another.

  • Public places such as museums, concert halls and cinemas are closed.
  • Advice: only travel abroad for essential reasons (holidays are not essential).
  • Shops and markets must close and public transport services must cease if the relevant hygiene measures are not sufficiently complied with or if people are not keeping a sufficient distance from others (1.5 metres).
  • Markets may only continue trading if the head of the relevant safety region has granted an exemption. Shoppers must stay 1.5 metres away from others.
  • The head of a safety region can decide to close certain spaces in order to prevent people gathering in groups. This may include campsites, holiday parks, parks, nature conservation areas and beaches.
  • Toilets, shower blocks and washing facilities at recreational locations cannot remain open. This includes holiday parks, marinas and all campsites (including those on farms).

Additional measures

The government is putting additional measures in place to ensure that we, as a society, get through this period.

  • In order to keep society running, a number of exemptions apply to people working in crucial sectors and critical processes:
    • they can make use of emergency childcare offered by schools or childcare centres.
    • they do not need to stay at home if they have mild, cold-like symptoms or when someone they live with is ill. They should only stay at home if they themselves have a fever (but they should consult with their employer if they are in any doubt).
  • Emergency measures have been put in place to protect jobs and the economy. These include temporary financial arrangements for businesses and self-employed people to help cover incomes and salaries, defer tax payments and make it easier to obtain credit. These measures also go some way to supporting the cultural and creative sectors.
  • Truck drivers’ rest and working times have been adjusted so that supermarkets remain well stocked.
  • Banks have increased the transaction amount limit for contactless card payments to help prevent the virus spreading via PIN pads.
  • Many people have launched social initiatives to help others at this time.

See also

Frequently asked questions about coronavirus and health