Fewer people are allowed to gather together for the time being: a maximum of thirty in one room, with groups of no more than four people at one table. Outdoors, for example on a terrace, up to forty people are allowed to sit.
The new rules will apply at least for the next three weeks. The government hopes they will help to contain the second wave of coronavirus infections. The recommendation from the health experts (the OMT) was actually stricter: they wanted to allow no more than twenty people in one room.
However, universities and universities of applied sciences have been exempted. An exception has been made for education, as well as for demonstrations, funerals and church services. Libraries, museums and other locations where people ‘circulate' can also allow more visitors.
Advice facemasks will also apply in Delft
Facemasks are also slowly starting to appear in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, the government advice is now to wear a facemask in shops. Retailers can refuse customers who are not wearing a mask.
In fact, Mayor Halsema of Amsterdam wants facemasks to be worn much more often. She strongly advises residents to wear a facemask in all “publicly accessible indoor spaces”. “And we ask institutions, the hospitality industry and retailers to include the obligation to wear a facemask in their door policy.” This advice will also apply in the regions around Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Delft and The Hague.
If the new measures have enough effect, the government may be able to differentiate between the different regions in three weeks’ time: more stringent or relaxed where necessary. If not, the Netherlands will be heading towards a lockdown similar to earlier this year.
There are currently 3,000 infections per day. The government expects this to rise to 5,000 per day, even with the new measures. In some regions, non-emergency care is again being postponed due to the increasing number of coronavirus patients.
The effect of the new measures will not be visible for another ten days to two weeks. The virus is like a massive tanker that takes time to turn, said Prime Minister Rutte and Minister De Jonge.
At home too, people should receive fewer visitors: not six, but at most three guests. However, Rutte admits that enforcement stops at the front door. The police can only intervene if someone is causing a nuisance.
The prime minister repeated the ground rules: keep 1.5 metres apart, wash your hands, cough and sneeze into your elbow, get tested if you have any symptoms, avoid crowds and work from home as much as possible. The latter is something the government wants to emphasise more strongly. A workplace can be closed if there are infections.
HOP, Bas Belleman