Prime minister Mark Rutte has warned that new lockdown rules will be necessary before the start of December unless people stick to the social distancing rules.
The government reintroduced the 1.5 metre rule as well as the mask mandate in shops and other indoor spaces 10 days ago in response to a surge in infections. Cafes, bars and public events were ordered to shut their doors at 8pm and fans were banned from sports matches.
But with infections rising by more than 50% in the last week and more than 2,400 patients in hospital, the cabinet has come under pressure not to wait until next Friday’s press conference to bring in stricter measures.
On Monday 23,066 new coronavirus cases were reported in the previous 24 hours, only just below the all-time record set last Thursday, while 22% of all tests were positive.
Some MPs and health experts have said lockdown rules such as closing bars and restaurants will have to be implemented this winter to prevent the health service being overburdened.
Parliament is divided on whether to introduce the 2G system, which would restrict access to indoor spaces to people who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from coronavirus. Some parties want to extend the CovidCheck pass to workplaces and non-essential shops, while others, such as the ChristenUnie, argue that universal testing – the so-called 1G system – would be fairer.
Rutte said on Monday that it was up to everyone to pay attention to the guidelines, which also include working from home where possible and not having more than four guests at home, though those measures are not formalised as rules.
‘The Outbreak Management Team have told us that the basic rules are still not being observed properly,’ he said. ‘If we want to be able to make a decision on December 3, and not sooner, it’s essential that we see a dramatic change in the observation of the rules.’
He said the government’s advisors would be closely monitoring the effectiveness of the current rules and the situation in the hospitals. ‘If one of those two things gets worse we will have to make a statement earlier. We hope it won’t be necessary, but we can all do our bit if we abide by the rules.’
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