Gyms, saunas set to reopen on July 1: Prime Minister; Holiday status uncertain

The Akademia fitness center in Amsterdam Oost
The Akademia fitness center in Amsterdam Oost. May 27, 2020NL TimesNL Times

Fitness centers, wellness centers and saunas will be allowed to reopen from July 1, said Prime Minister Mark Rutte in a brief press conference on Wednesday evening. Sport facility cantinas and casinos will also be given permission to reopen that date, but sex work will still not be allowed until September 1. The Dutch leader was joined by Health Minister Hugo de Jonge after a meeting of the Cabinet's crisis management committee.

However, more restrictions could be introduced if the improving situation in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic takes a turn for the worse. "For gyms and saunas the Outbreak Management Team has given strict advice that they must comply with in order to open up again. The entire set of rules for July 1 will only continue if it is really possible," Rutte said.

Fitness centers had been expected to open only after the summer. "If we continue to comply with the rules, the greatest chance is that there will then be relaxing of rules on July 1 that were planned for September 1," Rutte said. That means that people still have to maintain 1.5 meters distance from anyone they do not live with, work from home whenever possible, and be mindful of health symptoms, he stated.

He said no firm decisions had been made on summer holidays, but asked all residents of the Netherlands to postpone their upcoming vacations wherever possible. "For holidays abroad: in our view, this is only possible in countries with a similar situation as in the Netherlands. Also abroad, one must adhere to the rules that apply there," Rutte said, later referencing quarantines and isolation periods. He hoped to give more clarity to the situation next week.

"A trip to a holiday destination should not be more risky than if you never went. We have just gotten the virus under control, but it is far from safe everywhere."

When asked why it was acceptable to open up gyms, but visits to care homes would remain heavily restricted, De Jonge said it is still tense with nursing homes, and a step-by-step approach is still required. "We keep talking to the nursing homes to see what can be done more or sooner," he said. "The visitors' scheme was incredibly harsh, but necessary. We have seen how vulnerable the people in nursing homes are with such an outbreak. So I understand the emotional response very well, but we must continue to do it step by step."