Skip Christmas this year says Dutch ICU leader; Half of Dutch want more Covid restrictions
One of the country's top opinion leaders during the Covid-19 pandemic, Diederik Gommers, wants the Dutch public to accept that they may have to skip celebrating Christmas with family members this year. He made the comments on radio program 1 op 1 on Thursday, the same day newspaper AD published a report that half of the Dutch public think more coronavirus restrictions are needed.
Gommers is the head of the Dutch intensive care association and a government advisor on the Outbreak Management Team (OMT). He said he has not yet seen a significant enough improvement in SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection data to allow larger groups of friends and family members to gather over the holiday period.
If the Cabinet says on December 8 that it will not allow people to get together for the holidays, Gommers asked that everyone still maintain communication with their neighbors and loved ones. This will be an important way to combat loneliness and depression brought on by darkness, being alone, and the limits placed on other traditions like setting off fireworks to bring in the New Year, he said.
Earlier in the week, the OMT advised the government not to loosen restrictions after there were signs of a reverse in the trend of falling infections amid a worsening basic reproduction value associated with the virus. “At the moment there are no indications for relaxing the rules," Gommers said. He said he was also waiting on new projections from public health agency RIVM.
Current rules call for a strict limit of no more than three guests over the age of 12 per day, per household. There had been talk of doubling that maximum in time for Christmas. Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said it appeared more difficult to make that exception with a seven-day average number of coronavirus infections above five thousand, nearly five-times the amount he said was needed to relax the Cabinet's rules.
Over half of the population of the Netherlands believe the Cabinet and the RIVM are not doing enough to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to a survey by newspaper AD. Only about eight percent said they thought too many rules were being enforced by the government.
Some 61 percent blamed the second wave of coronavirus infections on people who traveled over the summer. The newspaper said that may explain why 71 percent of people now find it irresponsible to travel abroad for the winter holiday season after the Cabinet asked people not to travel internationally.
Around 89 percent said they were obeying the restrictions, with the country currently under a semi-strict partial lockdown. At the same time, about 75 percent said they were irritated by people who do not comply with the coronavirus restrictions.