Coronavirus measures likely extended through April; Inland tourism restrictions possible

Bruno Bruins, Mark Rutte, and Jaap van Dissel at a press conference introducing new rules regarding coronavirus.
Healthcare Minister Bruno Bruins, Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and RIVM Director Jaap van Dissel at a press conference introducing new rules regarding coronavirus. March 12, 2020RVD

The Netherlands' Outbreak Management Team advised the government to extend current measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 through to end-April or early-May. The team also recommended limiting inland tourism, sources in The Hague told RTL Nieuws. The government is meeting on Tuesday to decide which advice to follow and will officially announce measures in a press conference expected around 7:00 p.m.

That measures currently in place until April 6 will be extended is almost a certainty, sources told both RTL and NOS. According to the NOS sources, it will likely be a long extension because the government wants to give Netherlands residents as much clarity as possible. Moreover, a serious extension will keep awareness on the fact that measures are urgent and necessary, is the idea. 

The measures currently in place until April 6 include the closure of schools, restaurants, cafes, bars and museums, and social distancing - the instruction to keep 1.5 meters apart. According to the NOS sources, it is unlikely that new measures will be added to these. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that he is satisfied with the measures already in place and proud of how the country responded to them, ANP reports.

One piece of new advice, according to RTL, is to stop domestic holiday movements. Inland tourism, such as going camping or visiting a local hotel, is currently not forbidden, though mayors have the option of closing campsites. It has not yet been exactly determined what falls under 'inland tourism', RTL's sources said. Closing all campgrounds will be difficult, because there are also sites that are permanently inhabited.

Hubert Bruls, mayor of Nijmegen and chairman of the Security Council - the council of safety regions, is happy with the resources the government gave mayors to enforce current Covid-19 regulations, he said after a meeting of the security council also attended by Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus on Monday. After many people gathered on beaches and in parks in the weekend of March 21 and 22, the rules were tightened somewhat and mayors were given the authority to fine people and close down gathering places. This seemingly succeeded, because there were very few gatherings this past weekend.

"We have all said that people in the Netherlands deserve a compliment for the way they did this past weekend," Grapperhaus said after the meeting, reports. The Minister added that extending these measures "really asks something" of the Netherlands. "It is really choosing for one another. That is something that we must constantly realize."