It now seems unlikely that the government will extend the Christmas school holidays by a week in an effort to get coronavirus under control, officials have told Dutch media following talks between the cabinet and virus experts.
Prime minister Mark Rutte and health minister Hugo de Jonge will outline the latest situation at a press conference on Tuesday evening and, insiders in The Hague say, they appear to be convinced that there is no scope for relaxing the rules during the holiday break.
According to broadcaster NOS, the only option remaining on the table is that of expanding the number of guests from three to six on December 25 and 26, but that too is now in doubt following a further rise in the number of positive cases.
In the 24 hours to Monday morning, a further 7,134 positive cases were registered with the public health institute RIVM, the six successive daily increase.
Three weeks ago both Rutte and De Jonge were hopeful that some of the measures could be relaxed by mid December, but Monday’s total figures is twice the target suggested at that press conference.
According to the NRC, ministers are concerned that relaxing the rules is leading people to relax their approach to the virus, particularly now vaccinations will start next month.
However, officials warn that even with the prospect of vaccinations, the current lockdown measures will continue throughout the winter, the paper said.
Frits Rosendaal, a professor of clinical epidemiology at Leiden University, told the Parool it is unclear why the number of infections is rising but ‘it is a fact that the virus is stronger in winter’.
However, illegal parties, dozens of which are ended by police every weekend, and busy shops emphasise the role of humans in spreading the virus. ‘You can blame all sorts of things on the virus but you cannot say that it is going shopping. It is people who are making those choices,’ he said.
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