Sunday 24 January 2021

Ministers look into curfew option and further limits on home visits

A deserted shopping street. Photo: DutchNews.nl

The cabinet has asked its special coronavirus advisory team to look into the option of bringing in a curfew in an effort to further cut down on contacts between people and so reduce the spread of the virus, particularly the new and highly infectious variant first identified in Britain.

Prime minister Mark Rutte urged MPs during Wednesday’s debate on the government’s coronavirus strategy not to block a curfew, should it be on the cards.

As yet, no details of what form a curfew could take have been made public, but the government’s counter terrorism agency NCTV said in December that it could operate from 8pm to 4am and that it would be an offence to be on the streets during that eight hour period without a valid reason.

Rutte said at Tuesday’s press conference that officials are looking into what additional measures could be taken if the number of positive coronavirus tests fails to reduce sufficiently.

Jaap van Dissel from the public health institute RIVM told MPs on Wednesday that one option would be to impose further limits on visitors, given that half the infections with a known source happen within a household and 36% derive from visits.

The cabinet currently recommends no more than two adult visitors in a 24 hour period.

Utrecht epidemiologist Patricia Bruijning told broadcaster NOS that she would like to see a system similar to Belgium, where visits are restricted to the same small, social bubble of people.

The infection rate per 100,000 people in Belgium in the last week of 2020 was four times lower than that in the Netherlands, she said.

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