Saturday 24 October 2020

Dutch bring in new rules, forecast 5,000 coronavirus cases a day by next week

Mark Rutte and Hugo de Jonge during the press conference. Photo: Phil Nijhuis ANP

The Dutch government expects the number of positive coronavirus cases a day to reach 5,000 by next week, health minister Hugo de Jonge told reporters during Monday evening’s press conference to outline new measures to stem the spread.

The new measures – which will last for an initial three weeks – focus on reducing social contacts, De Jonge said. Most are to be applied nationwide, although they include a recommendation that face masks be worn in shops in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.

Travel should be restricted as much as possible and working from home should again become the norm. Companies where a cluster is identified can be closed for up to two weeks.

The government is also introducing a 40 person maximum on outdoor events, and a 30 person restriction inside cafes, bars and restaurants. Groups are to be limited to four, while people are advised to have no more than three visitors over the age of 13 to their own homes.

Cafes

Cafes and restaurants must now close their doors at 9pm and everyone must have gone home by 10pm. Supporters are also being banned at both professional and amateur events for the three-week period. Sports club canteens will also be shut.

Shops are to bring back the door policy to make sure their customers are keeping their distance and in Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam, shops are being advised to require their clients to wear a face mask. They are also being asked to [re]introduce periods twice a day when people in vulnerable health can shop.

Economy

‘I realise this is a bitter bill for companies,’ prime minister Mark Rutte said. ‘But this is about the sum of the whole, not one sector in particular. We have to share the pain.’

There will be economic consequences, he said. ‘And we will be talking to employers about them.’ Talks on the current package of help for companies will be discussed with unions and employers in the coming days, Rutte said.

However, the income check for freelancers who apply for financial support (Tozo), which should be introduced from October 1, will not now go ahead, Rutte said

Three weeks

Given the current rate of infection, officials expect it to be 10 days to two weeks before the impact of the new measures announced on Monday will have an impact, De Jonge said. By mid October, officials expect some 400 people to be in intensive care with coronavirus.

‘What we are trying to do is to protect our most vulnerable people, while making sure that the health service can keep up with demand,’ De Jonge said. ‘The people who are sick today were infected a week ago.’

‘If we don’t manage to reduce the number of infections with these new measures, we are heading closer to [returning to] the intelligent lockdown,’ De Jonge said.

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