Tuesday 21 March 2023

Dutch government poised to bring back masks and broaden ‘test for entry’

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Face masks are set to return and the ‘test for entry’ system will be extended to gyms, swimming pools and museums when the government announces new coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday, according to sources.

NOS reported that the cabinet plans to reintroduce masks in public buildings such as council offices and in close-contact professions such as hairdressing salons. Ministers are still reportedly deciding whether to make masks compulsory in shops again.

The government will also urge people to revert to working from home 50% of the time, a month after social distancing was formally abolished and the work from home rule was eased, NOS’s sources said.

More substantial interventions like reimposing the 1.5 metre social distancing rule and requiring people to show QR codes proving they have been vaccinated, tested negative or have natural immunity from a recent infection would require new laws to be passed by parliament.

Health minister Hugo de Jonge told RTL Nieuws that new restrictions were inevitable because of the steep rise in hospital admissions in the last few weeks.

Monday’s figures show there are now 1,212 people in hospital with coronavirus infections, 90 more than on Sunday and 52% more than a week ago. The number of patients in intensive care increased by 16 to 236, 18.6% higher than last week.

‘We have no choice but to bring in measures again,’ De Jonge said. ‘But we don’t want to impose all kinds of restrictions on the whole society. So we’re looking for appropriate measures that will have a real impact on the rapid spread of the virus.’

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