Saturday 06 June 2020

Are we all going on a summer holiday? Ministers are looking at the options

It will be holidays at home for many this year. Photo:

Ministers are still considering what advice to offer the Dutch about this year’s summer holidays, prime minister Mark Rutte said during Tuesday evening’s press conference.

The current rule in the Netherlands is only to travel abroad if this is strictly necessary but some EU countries, such as Italy and Greece, are making plans to open their borders in the near future.

The cabinet advice, when finalised, will focus on the policy in other countries and on the risk of infection, Rutte said in answer to reporters’ questions. ‘We are also looking if any measures to reduce the risks if people return from a holiday abroad,’ he said.

Official advice

Foreign minister Stef Blok has already been in touch with Italy about the formal travel advice for the popular holiday destination, which remains officially ‘amber’ or essential travel only. Italy plans to open up to tourism again on June 3.

Research by NBTC-NIPO Research earlier this month showed that some 7.2 million people are currently making holiday plans this year, down 39% on last year’s figures.

The survey showed some five million people want to go abroad, a fall of 43% compared to 2019 Germany, France and Spain are traditionally the most popular destinations for Dutch tourists.

Meanwhile, Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema has said she is concerned that the Dutch capital could be a new epicentre of infection if too many tourists visit when the borders do open up.

‘I am sorry if I seem like a wet blanket, but we do have to realise how vulnerable we are,’ Halsema said in a debate with city councillors.

It is already difficult enough for the city’s 800,000 residents to keep 1.5 metres distance from each other, without the added problem of thousands of tourists, she said.

‘We must not go all out to stimulate regional, national and international travel,’ she said. ‘If we go overboard, we run the risk of Amsterdam being an epicentre in a second wave.’

Most infections

Figures from the public health institute RIVM show that the province of Zuid-Holland now has the highest rate of new coronavirus infections, followed by Noord-Holland.

Noord-Brabant, where the virus first took hold, appears now to have the spread firmly under control, with just 22 infections in Eindhoven in the week to May 17.

Most new infections that week were in Rotterdam (101), Amsterdam (95) and The Hague (73).

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