14-day isolation for New York arrivals; Sunshine no excuse, stay inside: Dutch PM

Self-Service Passport Control lines at Schiphol Airport
Self-Service Passport Control lines at Schiphol AirportredstoneDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

Dutch and EU citizens as well as legal residents arriving in the Netherlands from the United States will be told to spend 14 days in home isolation in order to prevent possible new cases of coronavirus infection, the Cabinet confirmed on Thursday. The new measure was decided due to the “large increase in the number of coronavirus infections in New York, but also more broadly in the United States,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed after a meeting of the Ministerial Crisis Management Committee.

Rutte said that flights from the U.S. carrying nationals from other countries will also land in Schiphol Airport, but that those nationals will be subsequently repatriated with the help of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

While no other major regulatory measures were ordered during Thursday’s crisis meeting that would restrict domestic travel, Rutte nevertheless urged people to stay at home despite the good weather forecast for the weekend ahead.

“Our call is for the whole of the Netherlands to carry on staying at home as much as possible,” Rutte told the media at the Security and Justice Ministry. “If you do go out, don’t go to the places where a lot of people gather together at once.” He added that people who need some fresh air should instead choose to walk around their neighborhoods and avoid busy places.

This comes as the municipalities of Bloemendaal, The Hague and Zandvoort announced that they will bar people from arriving at the local beaches, parks and camping sites over the weekend. “At this moment,” Rutte confirmed, “many municipalities are busy closing down beaches and parks. You see that measures are taken to limit recreation in a sustainable manner.”

Aside from discouraging travel within the country, Rutte also advised that people avoid making trips across the Netherlands’ land borders with Germany and Belgium and asserted that nationals of those countries do the same concerning the Netherlands.

The Dutch government had already been using social media this week to warn foreigners against making trips into the country, and Rutte confirmed that such efforts will be continued.

“At this moment,” Rutte added, “we do not think that extra regulations are needed other than these wishes: stay in Belgium, stay in Germany. Don’t come to the Netherlands.”