'Zero chance' life will return to normal after Apr. 28: Dutch PM; Schools in talks to reopen

Covid-19: Sign in Amsterdam's Oosterpark instructing people to stay 1.5 meters apart
Covid-19: Sign in Amsterdam's Oosterpark instructing people to stay 1.5 meters apartNL TimesNL Times

There is "zero chance" that life in the Netherlands will return to normal after April 28, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at a press conference on Thursday. The current rules in place around social distancing⁠, specifically that people are required to keep a distance of 1.5 meters from others, will be kept in place for a while longer, Rutte said after the cabinet held a meeting to discuss Covid-19 measures.

Schools were advised to be prepared to maintain physical spacing in their buildings, as well. Rutte suggested schools could divide students up between the mornings and afternoons, or allowing certain students to attend on some days and their absent classmates on other days.

The Cabinet is still waiting for research and a briefing about how children of different ages are affected by the disease, their risk of contracting it, and infecting others.

He said there could be opportunity to relax some of the measures meant to curb the spread of coronavirus. "But always while duly observing the 1.5-meter rule and the rule to stay home in case of health complaints."

The "new normal" will mean continued changes to normal daily life, like parents not being allowed to escort their children to classrooms. "Be prepared for all scenarios," he added.

About 23 thousand people in the Netherlands have tested positive to date for coronavirus, of whom nearly 2,400 have died, and of whom roughly 8 thousand have required hospitalization. While new hospitalizations have declined steadily over the past eight days, there was a slight increase in Covid-19 admissions into intensive care.

Figures released on Thursday showed there were 1,417 being treated in ICU—an increase of nine from a day earlier. Intensive care occupancy has been relatively stable all week, even witnessing a slight drop on Wednesday.