Bergamo mayor criticizes Netherlands for no lockdown policy

Giorgio Gori, mayor of the northern Italian city of Bergamo, criticized the Netherlands for not implementing a complete lockdown in the fight against the coronavirus Covid-19. "I say it with all due respect, but I think that a big mistake is being made in the Netherlands," Gori said during a Q&A with foreign press in Italy, the Telegraaf reports.

"We also made mistakes in Italy. We initially thought it was enough to take some light measures, such as calling on citizens to avoid large groups and keep their distance from one another. But that doesn't work. The only way to stop the virus is the total lockdown," Gori said.

"We were unlucky that we were the first country in the west to be hit by the corona crisis and that our province was the hardest hit of all. Anyone like the Netherlands and England who is a few days ahead because the virus got there later, would do well to take advantage of this lead by making earlier decision for the sake of the health of the inhabitants," Gori said.

The Netherlands' strategy in addressing the coronavirus is to "flatten the curve" - taking social distancing measures to slow the spread of the virus so that the healthcare system is not overloaded. At the same time, the health authorities hope that the Dutch population will slowly build up herd immunity against the virus. Which is why the authorities opted against a complete lockdown.

The Dutch government first called on Netherlands residents to stay at home if they show any symptoms of illness, to work from home as much as possible, and for large events to be canceled. Later schools, daycare facilities, restaurants, cafes, sports clubs, fitness centers and coffeeshops were closed. The government called on the population not to gather in groups and stay at least 1.5 meters away from each other. On Monday, the government tightened the rules even further, banning gatherings of three or more people, canceling all events, and giving municipalities the authority to close beaches and parks and fine people for violating the ban on gatherings.

On Wednesday, Jaap van Dissel of public health institute RIVM told the lower house of Dutch parliament that these measures seem to be succeeding in flattening the curve. The infection rate of the outbreak seems to be declining, he said.