Few options for Christmas as coronavirus cases rise again

Prime minister Mark Rutte arrives for the meeting. Photo: Robin Utrecht ANP
Prime minister Mark Rutte arrives for the meeting. Photo: Robin Utrecht ANP

The current increase in positive coronavirus tests means the government has few, if any, options to relax the coronavirus regulations ahead of the Christmas break, according to insiders in The Hague.

Ministers met health experts at the prime minister’s official residence on Sunday for their weekly talks and more talks are set for today, ahead of Tuesday’s official announcement.

However, according to broadcaster NOS, there is little on the table. It may be possible to extend the maximum number of guests from three to six for a couple of days, but little else is likely, NOS said.

Officials are also looking at extending the school Christmas holidays, because this may have a role in reducing the spread of the virus. However, some ministers are known to oppose longer holidays because of the impact on working families and companies, as well as schools.

Infection rate

Prime minister Mark Rutte said at his weekly press conference on Friday that people are well aware the infection rate is too high to allow much. ‘I agree with the many people who say we must be cautious,’ Rutte said.

On Saturday and Sunday the total number of newly registered infections rose for the fourth and fifth days in a row. On Sunday the RIVM reported 6,814 new cases, up 1,313 on the average number over the past week.

There were also 1,641 coronavirus patients in hospital, of whom 469 were being treated in intensive care. This too is a slight increase on recent days.

The public health institute RIVM will give its latest weekly round-up on Tuesday.

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