Sunday 02 April 2023

Rutte bows out of coronavirus press conferences after 38 in a row


Prime minister Mark Rutte will not be at Tuesday’s press conference on possible new changes to the coronavirus rules – for the first time since the pandemic began.

Instead, Rutte will be in the senate for a debate about the new coalition government’s plans, he told MPs on Tuesday afternoon.

Ernst Kuipers, the new health minister, will host the 7pm press conference on his own. It is the first time in 38 press conferences that Rutte will not have attended the meeting with a group of journalists from the main Dutch papers and broadcasters to explain the government’s policy.

Commentators say the decision is part of a new approach to the pandemic.

Rutte had already indicated that he would not be at all the press conferences as the pandemic enters a new phase, without the emphasis on crisis management.

Kuipers has already introduced changes, such as the use of graphics to illustrate the latest pandemic figures. He has also issued the official recommendations made by the government’s Outbreak Management Team to reporters ahead of the press meeting.

The government is expected to introduce some changes on Tuesday, given that the situation in hospitals is stable, sources have told the AD. According to broadcaster NOS, the rules for the hospitality and cultural sectors may be further relaxed, and night clubs maybe allowed to reopen under strict conditions.

The OMT will meet on Friday to discuss the current situation and the cabinet will then meet ahead of the press conference to take the final decision.

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