No guarantees about opening cafes on April 28, Rutte tells MPs
It is extremely unsure if the curfew will be lifted and pavement cafes reopened in two weeks time, even though April 28 is the new target date, prime minister Mark Rutte said during Wednesday’s debate on the government’s coronavirus measures.
‘I would not dare put money on it,’ he said. ‘It may take longer.’
Rutte said at Tuesday’s press conference that the government had drawn up a five stage plan to reopen society and that if the infection rate fell, the first stage could be implemented on April 28.
That would involve reopening pavement cafes and shops, sanctioning two visitors at home, and scrapping the curfew which was brought in on January 23, initially for two weeks.
‘I cannot offer any guarantees,’ Rutte said on Thursday. ‘The number of coronavirus patients being admitted to hospital must go down. We need to be past the peak.’
So far there is little sign of that happening, with new cases averaging around 7,300 over the past week.
Ministers have agreed to assess the situation on a weekly basis and will meet on Sunday to discuss possible changes in the rules at the end of the month.
The next date earmarked for potential change is May 11, when there may be more opportunities for sports clubs and gyms to reopen. Restaurants, cinemas and museums may be allowed to resume their activities in the third stage later that month.
A number of mayors, including those of the big cities, have appealed to the government to allow pavement cafes to reopen in an effort to relieve the pressure of numbers in parks.
But Rutte said this is the wrong way of looking at it. Opening terraces will mean more people are out and about, he said. ‘The Vondelpark won’t empty if the terraces are open,’ the prime minister said.
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