Saturday 08 August 2020

Ministers to decide on face masks today; NOS says no nationwide plan expected

Ministers will on Wednesday discuss new recommendations by its coronavirus advisory team OMT about whether or not to boost the use of face masks in the Netherlands, but sources have told broadcaster NOS there will not be nationwide regulations.

Prime minister Mark Rutte said on Facebook on Tuesday that ministers will brief MPs on their decision later in the day after talks with various official committees. However, NOS reports that masks will not become compulsory in shops and outside spaces although there maybe an option for localised initiatives.

Amsterdam and Rotterdam’s mayors have both said they would like to be able to make wearing a mask compulsory in some busy areas.

Later on Wednesday, the 25 regional public safety boards will also meet to discuss strategy, following a rise in the number of coronavirus infections, particularly in the Rotterdam and Amsterdam areas.

Government experts have said repeatedly that they do not support making the use of masks wider because it could give rise to a false sense of security. Masks are currently only compulsory on public transport.

The OMT will also meet on Thursday to discuss quarantine issues, particularly for residents returning to the Netherlands from places where travel is not recommended. The list of code orange areas now includes the Barcelona and Antwerp areas, both of which are popular with Dutch tourists.

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