Thursday 07 July 2022

Dutch scrap masks on public transport, relax travel rules

Health minister Ernst Kuipers arrives at the cabinet meeting. Photo: Sem van der Waal ANP

The government is scrapping the remaining coronavirus rules from next Wednesday, including the use of face masks on public transport, health minister Ernst Kuipers confirmed on Tuesday.

Government health advisors had recommended keeping face masks in public transport in order to protect people with vulnerable health conditions.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting called to discuss the changes, Kuipers said it is now time to trust the good sense of the Dutch, who have all witnessed the impact of coronavirus.

‘We had expected the increase in cases, and luckily the pressure on the healthcare system is still okay,’ Kuipers said. ‘In this setting, it is now both possible and sensible to relax more of the measures.’

There have been an average of 63,221 new infections a day over the past week, according to the government’s coronavirus dashboard. Some 1,769 people are currently being treated in hospital.

Despite the decision to relax the rules, wearing a face mask on public transport would be helping to protect others, Kuipers said. Masks will also still remain compulsory on planes because of EU regulations.

Test for entry

In addition, a negative coronavirus test will no longer be compulsory to attend an indoor event with more than 500 people from next week. The recommendation to work at home at least half the week is also being scrapped from Tuesday.

Teachers, pupils and students and school staff will no longer be expected to take a self test twice a week, whether or not they have symptoms. However, the basic rules for testing with symptoms, isolation and quarantine remain in force.

Travel

People travelling to the Netherlands from within the EU or a Schengen country will no longer have to prove they have been vaccinated or tested negative from March 23, and EU nationals travelling to the Netherlands from outside the EU will also no longer have to show a negative test.

However, Dutch nationals travelling abroad will still need a QR code or Digital Covid Certificate to enter other EU countries.

The current rules for non-EU nationals travelling to the Netherlands from outside the EU remain in place, although there are exceptions for people who have been vaccinated or recently recovered from coronavirus, and who have a specific reason to travel.

Kuipers said the government is keeping a close eye on developments and will not hesitate to act of if the situation changes, or there is a new variant.

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