Support is dwindling for the 1.5 metre social distancing rule with cafe owners and shopkeepers saying customers are increasingly flouting the regulation.
Retail lobby group Detailhandel Nederland on Tuesday called on shoppers to respect the 1.5 metre rule and not to treat shopping as a leisure activity for the whole family.
‘This is not the time for fun shopping,’ deputy director Bert van Steeg said. ‘We want people to be able to shop safely and with pleasure.’
The hospitality industry has also sounded the alarm about the way the 1.5 metre rule is being ignored on cafe terraces and on Friday called for the measure to be dropped.
‘The cabinet is suffering from tunnel vision and has no focus on the realities of the day,’ KHN chairman Robèr Willemsen said. ‘Support for some of the cabinet’s rules has gone down enormously in recent weeks. The cabinet cannot walk away from this, and the 1.5 metre restrictions outside should be scrapped immediately.’
In addition, consumer campaign groups calling for change are also springing up. Viruswaanzin.nl was behind Sunday’s demonstration in The Hague and a lobby group calling itself Break-out Team is also calling for an end to social distancing.
Opinion pollster Maurice de Hond has also garnered increasing media attention for his theory that the 1.5 metre society is a waste of time and that people are being frightened unnecessarily.
De Hond, a social geographer by profession, has 90,000 followers on Twitter and is one of the people behind yet another campaign group, SmartExit. Its petition against the ‘unnecessary and unworkable’ 1.5 metre metre society has been signed some 150,000 times.
‘Virologists are scared to stick their neck out and risk losing their position,’ De Hond told broadcaster NOS. ‘But people are dying without reason and the economy is being wrecked.’
While epidemiologists say De Hond is selective in his choice of literature and too black and white in his conclusions, others point out that he has managed to get questions raised which should be answered. In particular his focus on ventilation and on super-spreading events has been relevant, epidemiologist Jaap Goudsmit told NOS.
Prime minister Mark Rutte is due to update the nation on the battle against coronavirus at a news conference on Wednesday, where he is expected to announce that the rules will be further eased from July 1.
These include allowing gyms and sports schools to reopen, and to increase the number of cinema and theatre goers from 30 to 100.
Rutte has repeatedly said that any further relaxation of the rules will depend on progress being made in reducing the spread of Covid-19.
On Monday, the public health institute RIVM said it had not received any overnight reports of people dying of coronavirus.
Nevertheless, a spokesman told the Telegraaf, this is likely to change on Tuesday, when most deaths are usually announced because of the weekend time-lag.
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