From Vigilant to Lockdown: The Dutch Covid phases explained
Earlier this week the Dutch government released a "road map" with four warning phases for the coronavirus situation, and the regional and national measures that will accompany each phase. The Netherlands has 25 different security regions, which could have separate rules enforced based on the number of residents who become infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus during any given week.
With dramatically escalating infection numbers, and hospitalizations expected to be in the thousands next month, all of the Netherlands entered a partial lockdown this week. The aim of the measures in place is to relieve pressure on the healthcare system, protect vulnerable people, and getting the virus back under control. As of early Friday afternoon, seven Randstad area regions and Brabant-Zuidoost were at Level 4, 13 regions were at Level 3 and the other four were at Level 2.
In all scenarios, international travelers will be advised to follow advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, public transportation passengers will be required to wear a face mask, and an unlimited number of guests will be allowed to attend funerals if they wear a mask and participate in a health checkup.
Primary schools will remain open, people will be advised to wear a face mask in retail locations, and care homes will in some cases be allowed to set their own rules regarding visitation based on where they are located. For each of the four levels, people will continue to be advised to work from home unless it becomes impossible to carry out their jobs.
"It is up to us all. Don't be the stubborn person who pushes the boundaries of the rules," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said during a press conference on Tuesday night.
Here follows a summary of the phases and the measures that will be implemented based on the progression of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infections. The full road map is available in Dutch, as is a simplified version.
Level 1 - Vigilant
The first, least worrying phase is the "vigilant" phase. At this level, less than 50 per 100 thousand residents test positive for Covid-19 per week, the situation is under control and everyone is adhering to the basic measures.
Measures that will definitely be in effect in this phase include that people at large gatherings will have to leave their name and number for eventual source and contact tracing, events larger than 100 persons must be reported to the municipality, and guests must be seated at restaurants and other catering establishments.
Nightclubs will still be closed, and other businesses can be shut temporarily if an outbreak is traced to them.
Additional measures that may be implemented include earlier closing times for catering establishments, and that professions involving close contact between workers and customers must register their clients for source and contact tracing.
Level 2 - Worrisome
The second "worrisome" phase has between 50 and 150 positive tests per 100 thousand residents per week. New infections are rising, putting testing and source and contact tracing under pressure. Measures are not sufficiently adhered to, and additional measures are needed to get the situation back under control.
Measures definitely in effect at level two include inside gatherings being limited to a maximum of 60 people and outdoors gatherings to a maximum of 80. Citizens are "urgently requested" not receive more than six visitors at their home at any given time.
There will be windows of time in which vulnerable groups can go shopping. Catering establishments must close by 1:00 a.m. Citizens will be "urgently advised" to limit their travel movements as much as possible.
Additionally, gathering sizes can be limited even more as well as catering establishment opening hours, spectators may be limited at sports matches, locker rooms may close at sports clubs, and public spaces and attractions may require visitors to book a time slot. There could be a ban on consuming alcohol in public after 10:00 p.m., and a municipality may have to limit access to crowded public locations.
Contact professions may have to register their customers' details and screen them for symptoms before providing service. Emergency shelter will be arranged for children in vulnerable situations.
These measures are aimed to slow down infections so that the situation can be brought back under control.
Level 3 - Serious
At the "serious" level 3, there are between 150 and 250 positive coronavirus tests per 100 thousand residents per week. Infections are rising quickly, source and contact tracing is no longer effective and thus there is no longer insight into the spread of the virus. Regional healthcare capacity is under pressure.
Measures that will definitely be in place include the urgent advice to limit house guests to 3 people at a time excluding children under the age of 13, public gatherings being limited to 30 people inside and 40 people outside, a ban on spectators at sports matches, and having to reserve a time slot at attractions like amusement parks and museums.
All catering establishments will have to close at 10:00 p.m., and sports club canteens must be closed. Contact professions must register their clients' details. And it will be more seriously emphasized that residents work from home unless this is impossible.
Additional measures that may be implemented include a four person limit on group sizes from mixed households, a ban on events, and urgent advice not to take part in any group trips. The parking lots of busy areas may be closed to discourage crowds, catering establishments may be closed completely, and shops are likely to have to close at 8:00 p.m. There may be a ban on the retail sale and public consumption of alcohol between 8:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
Public audiences at sports competitions will be banned. Vacationers will be asked to stay at their vacation home as much as possible, and avoid outings and crowds.
These measures are aimed at preventing the healthcare system getting overloaded, protecting vulnerable people, and trying to get insight into the spread of the virus.
Level 4 - Very Serious
At this "very serious" level, there are more than 250 positive tests per 100 thousand residents per week. Very many people are infected and the daily new infections are high. Source and contact tracing is not working, and the healthcare system is under so much pressure that regular care needs to be scaled down.
Measures that will definitely be in place include the urgent advice to have only 3 visitors at home at any one time, and no more than 3 visitors at home on any given day. A total ban on all events will be put in place, with no more than 30 people allowed in an indoor space and no gatherings outside. Groups will still be limited to 4 people, but wedding parties of up to 30 will still be permitted.
All restaurants, cafes and bars will be closed except for takeaway service, coffeeshop takeaway purchases will be ordered to stop by 8 p.m., and retail shops will have to close at 8:00 p.m. There will be a ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol between 8:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Local security regions will have the power to close stores and other businesses if they get too crowded or do not comply with the rules.
Sports and exercise by adults may only be done at a distance of 1.5 meters in groups of up to four people, and locker rooms in sports clubs will be closed.
Level 4 - Very Serious + Lockdown
A complete lockdown could also be implemented at this level, with indoor or outdoor groups capped at two people, and people largely instructed to remain in their homes as much as possible. Secondary schools, vocational instruction and higher education will all be moved online.
Museums and amusement parks will have to close, as will indoor sports training. No more than two adults will be allowed to workout together, and they will only be allowed to do so outside and at a distance of 1.5 meters.
Weddings of up to 30 guests will still be permitted.
The urgent advice will be to avoid all unnecessary travel, including to countries under the lowest level alerts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.