Frequently asked questions about the approach to tackling coronavirus in the Netherlands

Visiting the Netherlands

Is it still possible for foreigners to visit the Netherlands on holiday?

The Dutch government has implemented a number of measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In addition to the well-known health measures, restrictions on public life have also been imposed in the Netherlands. The measures pertaining to public life are:  

  • Stay at home as much as possible, even over the coming Easter weekend.
  • Only go outside if necessary.
  • Public venues such as museums, concert halls and theatres have been closed.
  • The Chair of the Dutch safety region is authorised to close sites (such as holiday parks, campsites, beaches, shops and parks) and take action by emergency decree. Communal toilets, washing facilities and shower facilities in campsites and holiday parks are being closed.
  • Fines can be levied if more than 2 people stand less than 1.5 metres apart.
  • All bars, cafés and restaurants have been closed.

Read more information about tourism in the Netherlands

Stay at home as much as possible

Why do I need to stay at home as much as possible?

We need everyone in the Netherlands to help combat the spread of coronavirus and protect people in vulnerable groups. If people avoid contact, they can’t infect others and the virus will stop spreading. The aim is to ensure that that there is enough medical capacity to help everyone who needs it.

What does ‘stay at home’ actually mean? What am I still allowed to do?

  • Stay home as much as possible. Unfortunately, this also means staying at home 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.
  • Don’t visit people over 70 or anyone with a medical condition.
    • Don’t visit anyone if you have cold-like symptoms.
  • Nursing homes and small-scale residential accommodation for the elderly will be closed to visitors.

  • 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.
  • Other arrangements apply to people working in crucial sectors and vital processes. You should discuss these arrangements with your employer.

Can we plan a trip away for the May school holidays?

The measures will be reassessed in the week before 28 April. You should bear in mind that measures may still apply after 28 April.

Can I still visit national parks and beaches in the Netherlands?

The Dutch government is discouraging travel of any kind and calling on everyone to stay at home as much as possible.

The Dutch government has taken a number of measures to limit the spread of coronavirus. In addition to the general health measures, there are also restrictions on public life. These are as follows:  

  • Stay at home as much as possible, including during the upcoming Easter weekend.
  • Only go outside if necessary.
  • Public venues such as museums, concert halls and theatres are closed.
  • The heads of the Dutch safety regions are authorised to close sites (such as holiday parks, campsites, beaches, shops and parks) and to introduce local emergency legislation. Communal toilets, washing facilities and shower facilities at campsites and holiday parks are being closed.
  • People standing less than 1.5 metres apart in groups of more than 2 may be fined.
  • All bars, cafés and restaurants have been closed.

Is this a lockdown?

No. A lockdown is a significant, far-reaching measure that, fortunately, is not needed at this point in time. A lockdown would mean that society and the economy come to a standstill and freedom of movement would be severely restricted.

How long will these measures apply?

For now, all measures will apply until 28 April inclusive. This means that the schools will remain closed until at least after the May holidays. Only the ban on events and gatherings for which organisers would normally be required to apply for a permit or notify the authorities will apply until 1 June.

What is ‘social distancing’?

Social distancing means having less physical contact with other people than normal and keeping your physical distance from them. This reduces the chance of infection. Having less contact with one another will reduce the spread of the virus. This means that fewer people will be infected at the same time and healthcare institutions will be able to cope. Examples of social distancing include: working from home, spreading working hours out if it’s not possible for staff to work from home, and staying 1.5 metres away from other people.

What does ‘keep your distance' mean?

  • Stay home as much as possible. Work from home if possible. Leave the house only to buy groceries, to take care of others or to get some fresh air. Always stay 1.5 metres from other people and avoid gathering in groups.
  • Always keep a good distance from other people (at least 1.5 metres) and avoid all social activities and groups of people. At home: limit the number of visitors to 3 and keep sufficient distance (1.5m) from each other.

Household quarantine

What does ‘household quarantine’ mean?

To everyone applies: stay home as much as possible. If you have a cold, a runny nose, sneezing, a sore throat, a cough a fever below 38 degrees Celsius, you should stay at home. If you or someone in your household develops symptoms like a fever above 38 degrees Celsius and/ or shortness of breath, all the members of the household must stay at home. This is called household quarantine. All the members of the household must remain in quarantine until everyone is free of symptoms for 24 hours. 

When does household quarantine end?

Wait untill all members of the household are free of symptoms for 24 hours. If everyone is free for 24 hours from symptoms such as a cold, a runny nose, a sore throat, a cough, a fever or shortness of breath, you can go outside again.

Does this apply to all households?

An exception applies to people working in crucial sectors and critical processes. They should only stay at home if they themselves have symptoms of shortness of breath and/or a fever above 38 degrees Celsius. Consult with your employer if you are in any doubt.

Everyone in my household has symptoms. Can I still do grocery shopping or walk the dog?

No, stay at home. Don’t go outside – don't go grocery shopping and don't walk the dog. You should ask someone else to do these tasks for you and make sure you stay 1.5 metres away from them.

How long will these measures apply?

The measures to combat the coronavirus sports will remain in force until at least 28 April (inclusive). This means that sport clubs, establishments serving food and drink, childcare centres and other locations will remain closed until 28 April inclusive. Schools will remain closed until at least the end of the May school holidays. The ban on events still applies until 1 June.

Children

How can small children keep their distance?

Naturally you can’t keep your own family members at a distance, especially not small children. But when you’re in a group that includes non-family members, make sure you keep 1.5 metres away from the others.

Children aged 12 and under can still play outside with each other, for example, in playgrounds, on squares, on the beach or in the woods. But take care to avoid big groups of children forming. Parents and guardians supervising children should ensure that they themselves stay at least 1.5 metres away from one another.

Groceries

Is it necessary to stockpile groceries?

While it is understandable that people want to feel prepared, there is no reason to stockpile. You don’t need to buy extra food.

If the Netherlands goes into lockdown, will I still be allowed to go to the supermarket to buy food?

Yes. Even if the country goes into lockdown, people will still need to eat. So you will still be allowed to buy food. The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and the Central Bureau for the Foodstuffs Trade (CLB) are closely monitoring developments in the food sector.

Should I be concerned about the food supply in supermarkets?

No that is not necessary. More than enough food is available and supermarkets and their suppliers work hard to get the food to the supermarket. When a shelf becomes empty, a new supply is already on its way to the supermarket.

Does the government recommend buying extra groceries just in case? 

No. We advise you to shop the same way you normally do and to buy the same amount as usual.

What is the Anti-Stockpiling Act?    

The Anti-Stockpiling Act (Hamsterwet) is an emergency law that enables the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy to prevent people from buying large amounts of products (stockpiling or panic buying). 

Why isn’t the Anti-Stockpiling Act being applied?     

The Anti-Stockpiling Act is an emergency law. It is only applied in the most serious situations when all other measures to prevent stockpiling have failed. There is no need to stockpile. There is plenty of food being produced, and distribution centres are well stocked.

How else can stockpiling be prevented?    

Consumers can help by shopping the same way they normally do and buying the same amount as usual. Retailers, such as supermarkets, are also permitted to set a limit on the purchase of certain products. 

Gatherings/events

What events have been cancelled?

All events and gatherings for which organisers would normally be required to apply for a permit or notify the authorities are banned until 1 June 2020.

Are other types of gatherings also banned?

Other types of gatherings are banned until 28 April 2020 inclusive. However, there are several exceptions. These are:

  • gatherings that are necessary to ensure the continued daily operations 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;
  • 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;
  • religious or ideological gatherings. These gatherings must not exceed 30 people and participants must stay at least 1.5 metres away from one another;
  • funerals and marriage ceremonies. These gatherings must not exceed 30 people and participants must stay at least 1.5 metres away from one another. And though it’s difficult, find a way to show your sympathy or congratulations other than shaking hands or embracing. Remember: if you have symptoms such as sneezing, a sore throat, a runny nose, a cough, a slight temperature or a fever: stay at home. If someone you live with has a fever or shortness of breath, everyone in the household must stay at home.

What is classed as a gathering?

Something is classed as a gathering mainly when prior arrangements have been made for a group of people to come together in one place. Gatherings are banned, even if those attending stay 1.5 metres away from one another. People congregating spontaneously is also considered a gathering. Examples include people doing team sports or yoga outside, or cycling trips by groups of cyclists.

Are demonstrations banned now too?

Demonstrations are gatherings but they are governed by the Public Assemblies Act and the normal procedures still apply. For more information, contact your municipality.

Have all other measures been extended until 1 June?

No. The choice to ban gatherings until 1 June was taken for organisational reasons. For example, the preparations for certain events, such as King’s Day activities, were already ongoing and involve large numbers of people.

All events and gatherings that require a permit are banned until 1 June. Does that mean schools will be closed until 1 June?

No. Schools will remain closed until at least the end of the May school holidays. In the week before April 28, it will be decided whether or not to extend the measure to close the schools.

Can I still hold a birthday party at home?

You are strongly advised to postpone parties for the time being. In any case, you may receive no more than 3 visitors at your home at one time. And everyone should stay 1.5 metres away from one another.

Ban on gathering in groups

What is meant by ‘gathering in groups’ or ‘congregating’?

This means people forming groups in public places. People cannot form groups of more than 2 people in public if they are less than 1.5 metres away from one another, regardless of whether or not this is intentional. This helps daily life continue but prevents irresponsible situations arising.

What does a ban on gathering in groups mean?

Limiting social contact reduces the risk of people infecting one another. Mayors can decide whether a ban on gathering groups applies to specific areas. Groups of more than 2 people are only permitted if people stay 1.5 metres apart.

What am I still allowed to do?

  • You can go to the supermarket or go for a walk outside, for instance, but stay 1.5 metres away from other people who aren't part of your household.
  • Children aged 12 and under can still play together. However, parents and guardians supervising children should ensure that they themselves stay at least 1.5 metres away from one another. And the children should also try and stay 1.5 metres from each other as much as possible.
  • People who live together in the same household are exempt from the ban on gathering in groups.

How do I know where gathering in groups is banned?

You can consult the information provided by your municipality.

Can children still play outside with more than 3 friends?

Children aged 12 and under can continue to play together outside, supervised by parent or guardian. Current data suggests that children experience few coronavirus symptoms and don't significantly contribute to the spread of the virus. However, you are strongly advised to limit the number of children playing together. It is also important that children avoid close physical contact as much as possible and that they wash their hands after playing. This includes after playing with toys or using playground equipment. Parents and guardians supervising children should ensure that they themselves stay at least 1.5 metres away from one another.

I live in a neighbourhood where gathering in groups is banned and want to go outside with the members of my household. But there are 3 or more of us. Is this allowed?

Yes. The ban does not apply to people who live together. However: you should stay at home as much as possible. And you should always stay 1.5 metres away from others.

Will the ban on gathering in groups be enforced?

Yes. The authorities will take action against groups of more than 2 people (other than members of the same household and children aged 12 and under) who are not keeping a 1.5 metre distance from each other.

How much is the fine?

People over 18 can be fined €390. Those aged under 18 can be fined €95. Individuals organising a gathering or event, as well as companies, can be fined anything up to €4,350.

How can gathering in groups be avoided?

A good first step is to respectfully ask people to stick to the rules if they're not doing so. If this doesn't work, some municipalities have a phone number you can call to report breaches. If not, you can call the police on 0900 8844. You can also speak to a special enforcement officer (BOA) or police officer who is on patrol. You should not call the emergency services on 112. This number is only intended for emergencies when every second counts.

If a public place has not been designated as falling under the ban, can a sports session be held there if everyone keeps enough distance from each other?

You should stay home as much as possible. You can go out to get some fresh air, but you should avoid exercising in groups. If group sports sessions continue to be held frequently, the head of the safety region can decide to enact a ban on gathering in groups for the location in question.

Gathering in groups is not banned in my neighbourhood. So can I meet more than 2 people outside?

You should stay at home as much as possible and work from home if you can. It's fine to get some fresh air or speak to your neighbours, but keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres at all times. Gathering in groups of more than 2 people is only permitted if all members of the group stay at least 1.5 metres apart.

Closing public and private spaces

Private and public spaces can be closed. What does this mean?

The head of a safety region can determine that certain spaces need to be closed in order to prevent people gathering in groups. This might include camp sites, holiday parks, parks, nature conservation areas and beaches. However, it does not include shops.

Does this also apply to markets?

Different rules apply to markets as these play a crucial role in bringing food to consumers in some places. 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.

Have all camp sites and holiday parks been closed?

The head of a safety region can decide to close specific locations to the public if there are reasons to do this. This could be the case, for instance, if the owners have not put sufficient measures into place to allow people to stay at least 1.5 metres away from one another.

Will sanitary facilities like public toilets, shower blocks and washing facilities remain open?

No, they must close. Toilet, shower and washing facilities at recreational locations cannot remain open. This includes holiday parks, marinas and all campsites (including those on farms). Public toilets, showers and washing facilities in parks, nature conservation areas and at beaches must also remain closed.

How will shops ensure that everyone keeps a safe distance from one another?

Additional agreements have been made with retail businesses and associations so that everyone can stay at least 1.5 metres from one another in shops. But rules have also been drawn up for customers, so that they know what to do to keep shopping safely.

Will sanitary facilities like public toilets, shower blocks and washing facilities remain open?

No, they must close. Toilet, shower and washing facilities at recreational locations cannot remain open. This includes holiday parks, marinas and all campsites (including those on farms).

Public toilets, showers and washing facilities in parks, nature conservation areas and at beaches must also remain closed.

How will shops ensure that everyone keeps a safe distance from one another?

Special agreements have been made with retail businesses and associations so that everyone can stay at least 1.5 metres from one another in shops. Customers must also follow certain rules so that everyone can shop safely. If the rules are not complied with sufficiently, shops may be closed.

Who can take action if insufficient measures are being taken in public and private spaces?

The head of the relevant safety regions can close places like holiday parks, campsites, beaches, shops and parks and take action via emergency local emergency legislation.

How do I know which spaces near me are closed?

You can consult the information provided by your municipality or region.

Can I go to the hairdresser or nail salon?

Businesses in contact-based industries, such as hair salons and beauty parlours, must be closed until 28 April inclusive.

I don't work at one fixed location, but often go to a client's or patient's home. I can't carry out my work while keeping my distance (1.5 metres). Can I continue working?

People in contact-based industries may not carry out their work until at least 28 April. The ban does not apply to people providing medically necessary care that cannot be done remotely or be postponed.

Money matters

I’ve noticed I can now use contactless payments for larger amounts than before. Why?

The limit has been increased from €25 per transaction to €50. You don’t need to take any action; this has been done automatically and you won’t receive any emails or text messages from your bank. The limit for consecutive contactless payments had already been increased from €50 to € 100. These measures have been introduced to facilitate contactless payment. Contactless payment does not require you to enter your PIN. This is one way banks are helping prevent the virus spreading further.

Is it still safe to pay with cash?

Yes. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) believes that the chance of the virus spreading via objects, such as money, is small. But no matter how you’re paying – whether with cash or card – you should take care. If you’re paying with notes or coins, place the money on the counter, rather than giving it to the cashier. This will help to prevent the virus spreading further.  

Dutch approach coronavirus

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.

Why does the Dutch approach to coronavirus differ from the approach taken in other countries?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued international guidelines, which each country is applying to its own situation. The Dutch approach centres on controlling the spread of the virus as much as possible. All the advice and measures announced in the Netherlands are aimed at doing this. Many of the measures are in line with those taken by neighbouring countries.

See also

Frequently asked questions about coronavirus and health