Don’t get your hopes up about cafes, minister says as ‘Covid free’ experiments start

The Laurenskerk in Rotterdam can welcome visitors this weekend. Photo: Koen van Weel ANP
The Laurenskerk in Rotterdam can welcome visitors this weekend. Photo: Koen van Weel ANP

Health minister Hugo de Jonge has warned against too high expectations that the coronavirus rules will be soon relaxed, following rumours pavement cafes may reopen again from April 21.

The warning comes as a string of government-backed experiments get underway to allow amusement parks, museums and castles to open to limited numbers of people who can prove they have a negative coronavirus test.

Dutch broadcaster NOS said last week that ministers are working on plans to reopen cafes and shops, and that the curfew may be lifted.  However, there is still ‘too much uncertainty,’ De Jonge is quoted as saying in the Financieele Dagblad. The reports, he said, are ‘premature’.

The current situation in the Netherlands with some three million people vaccinated and between three and four million having had Covid-19 is not enough for group immunity, De Jonge said.

Nevertheless, he said, there may be an effect on the number of new infections and hospital admissions. The government has therefore, he said, has asked its Outbreak Management Team advisors to look into relaxing some of the rules.

‘But it has not been said that we can take the first steps from Tuesday,’ the minister told the FD. De Jonge and prime minister Mark Rutte are due to hold a press conference outlining the latest situation next week.

Reports that pavement cafes and shops may be allowed to reopen have caused anger in some quarters, given that hospital admissions are still rising.


Meanwhile, the Keukenhof flower gardens opened its doors to 5,000 visitors on Friday, and will open for 10,000 more over the weekend.

In total, some 450 locations will be allowed to host members of the public in the coming weeks – all who must have a negative coronavirus from an approved testing centre.

The total cost of the programme is put at some €700m, the Volkskrant reported on Tuesday. This does not include the bill for the tests, which the government is picking up.

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