The cabinet is poised to order all cafes, restaurants and bars to shut their doors for a short period and will ban the sale of alcohol in the evening in an effort to get coronavirus under control, sources have told broadcaster RTL Nieuws.
The new regulations are likely to last two weeks, RTL said, and were discussed by officials from the 25 regional safety boards on Monday evening. The government’s strategy is to minimise the number of contacts between people and so reduce the risk of the virus being passed on.
Government experts believe cafes and bars are a major source of infection, particularly among the young, who then pass the virus on to older and more vulnerable people before realising they have been infected.
Other unconfirmed new measures on the list include limiting group numbers to four, inside and outside, and expanding the three visitors at home ruling to cover a 24 hour period.
Team sports for adults may also be halted temporarily, and public transport may again be reserved for essential journeys only. Schools are unlikely to be affected and face masks are unlikely to be made compulsory because of ‘legal issues’, RTL said.
Nearly 7,000 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the latest 24-hour window, making tougher disease control measures on Tuesday all but inevitable. Altogether 6,854 positive tests were recorded at 10am on Monday, nearly 500 more than the previous record set on Saturday.
Prime minister Mark Rutte and health minister Hugo de Jonge are expected to announce the latest measures on Tuesday after taking advice from the Outbreak Management Team.
‘We must brace ourselves for further measures,’ said De Jonge on Monday as he emerged from a meeting with Rutte, justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus and deputy health minister Tamara van Ark.
Hospitality organisations have already warned that a total closure will put extra pressure on a sector which has already been heavily squeezed by closures and social distancing restrictions.
Earlier leaks suggested that a new early closing time of 6pm would be introduced, but experts told broadcaster NOS that a total shutdown will be easier to police.
DutchNews.nl will be live tweeting from the press conference, which will be broadcast at 7pm and will carry a full round up of the new measures.