Dutch measures against coronavirus
The coronavirus measures are testing everyone’s resilience, both physically and mentally. The longer the crisis continues, the more difficult it becomes for everyone. Now that a year has passed, the pandemic’s social and economic effects are mounting dramatically. The government remains focused on protecting people in at-risk groups, and ensuring healthcare remains accessible to those in need. The rise of the British coronavirus variant means that the daily infection rate is now dropping less, or even increasing, compared with a few weeks ago. A third wave of infections seems unavoidable. Nevertheless, we are now in a phase where we can afford to take a slightly greater risk – albeit a limited and carefully considered risk. The lockdown and curfew will remain in force at least up to and including 15 March, but secondary schools and institutions of secondary vocational education (MBO) will partially reopen from 1 March. In addition, from 3 March the government will relax the lockdown in the following ways: young people aged 26 and below will be able to train together outside at sports facilities again; contact-based professions can be practised again; and retailers may open for shopping by appointment.
The aim of the lockdown is to prevent people from coming into contact with each other wherever possible. Less contact means fewer infections. So stay at home and work from home as much as possible. Only go outside to shop for essentials, to get medical or other assistance for yourself or to care for others or animals, to get some fresh air or to go to work or school if working or learning remotely is not possible. If you do decide to receive visitors, make sure you have no more than one visitor per day, not including children under 13. You should not visit more than one other household per day either.
On Monday 8 March the government will assess what measures are necessary as from 16 March.
By relaxing the lockdown somewhat we are taking a risk. This requires us to pay extra attention to following the basic rules. That includes the hygiene rules, such as frequent handwashing, sneezing into your elbow and wearing a face mask wherever required. It also means staying 1.5 metres away from others and avoiding busy places. It’s also essential – now more than ever – that you get tested and stay at home, even if you experience only mild symptoms. And if you test positive for COVID-19 you must self-quarantine together with everyone else in your household. This is the only way we can get coronavirus under control and gradually enjoy more freedom.
Vaccination against COVID-19 has now started in the Netherlands. That means that we are now entering a new phase in this crisis. The number of new positive cases has also fallen over the past few weeks. But unfortunately this does not mean that we can lift all the measures currently in place. Most people are still at risk and many people in the Netherlands are still infectious.
The aim of the measures is to reduce the current infection rate, delay the spread of the original and new coronavirus variants and prevent the new variants’ entry into the Netherlands as much as possible. This will enable us to prevent these variants from gaining the upper hand for as long as possible. And that will help ensure that hospitals have enough room for COVID-19 patients in the months ahead, and that regular medical procedures can continue as planned wherever possible. We don’t want to look back a few weeks from now and realise that we did not do enough.
Government working together with organisations and businesses
The basic rules, such as working from home unless this is impossible, avoiding crowds and staying 1.5 metres apart, apply to everyone. These rules also apply in shopping streets, parks and recreation areas, and on public transport where possible. To ensure everyone can follow these rules, the government is working together with businesses and organisations, including employers’ federations, trade unions, sector associations and Dutch rail company NS.
Every business and organisation is different. For smaller shops and restaurants the 1.5 metre rule means they can admit fewer people. Other places have small workspaces or narrow corridors. It is impossible for the government to take decisions or introduce measures that provide a solution for every business or organisation and answer everyone’s questions. Solutions need to be tailored, and the government is willing to provide input and support where possible.
Approach to tackling coronavirus crisis under caretaker government
After tendering its resignation, the government currently has caretaker status. It will continue to focus on tackling coronavirus in the months ahead, with a view to preventing the further spread of the virus and lessening the economic and societal effects through support packages.