The partial lockdown imposed in the Netherlands two weeks ago will last deep into December, prime minister Mark Rutte and health minister Hugo de Jonge told reporters on Tuesday evening.
‘You can assume that you will celebrate Sinterklaas in a small group, with no more than three people from outside your household,’ Rutte said. ‘It is still too early to say about Christmas.’
Ministers are also working on new recommendations for holiday travel, both in the Netherlands and abroad, and that could be published as early as later this week, Rutte said.
‘We are now at the crossroads,’ Rutte said. ‘It is too early to say if the measures of October 13 are having an impact and too early to take more measures. If we look at the figures, the week on week growth is slowing, but the number of new infections is still too big and must go down.’
In total, 67,543 positive coronavirus tests were registered with public health institute RIVM in the week up to Tuesday 10am, a rise of 22% on the previous week but well down on the figure two weeks ago.
However, the coming days will be crucial, Rutte said. ‘You can assume we will hold another press conference next Tuesday and that all the options are being looked at.’ Should the number of positive tests not go down in the coming days, Rutte said he would not hesitate to act earlier.
However, people should be aware that far reaching measures will have a major impact on the economy, increase loneliness, and impact more heavily on students and on teachers, the prime minister said.
The R factor, which indicates how the virus is spreading is still above 1, and must be brought down below that in the coming days, De Jonge said. ‘The speed at which it declines is also important when we are deciding about other measures,’ he said.
Asked why more measures are not being introduced now to reduce the pressure on hospitals, De Jonge said the people being hospitalised now were infected last week. The hospital admission peak will be later than the peak in new infections, he said.
Some 2,358 people are currently being treated in hospital for coronavirus, of whom 529 are in intensive care. More coronavirus patients continue to be admitted than are discharged, the patient coordination centre LCPS said earlier on Tuesday.
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