No extended school holiday; Covid restrictions won’t be relaxed: Report
It was nearly certain that an idea to close schools during the winter break for three weeks instead of two will not come to fruition. That idea was put forward as a similar decision earlier in the year corresponded with a drop in daily infections, but the Cabinet does not believe the same impact would be felt this time around with group sizes already severely limited, government sources told broadcaster NOS on Monday.
Rutte had also downplayed the proposal during his regular weekly press briefing on Friday.
There was also almost no possibility that the Dutch government would relax social restrictions before the Christmas and New Year’s holidays after the number of new daily coronavirus infections rose for six straight days through Monday. The sources told broadcaster NOS that the Cabinet believes the number of new cases, which topped 7,100 on Monday, left them no room to relax restrictions meant to stop the second wave of infections, with similar rumors surfacing earlier in the day.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said, “Things are not going well at all.” It remained possible that some expansion of group size for only the holidays would be allowable, but the chances were very slim, the sources said. De Jonge and Prime Minister Mark Rutte were expected to discuss the national situation and changes to any restrictions at a 7 p.m. press conference on Tuesday.
On Friday, Rutte said that he had hoped the number of infections would have fallen to around 3 thousand per day by now. De Jonge previously said that daily infections would need to be closer to 1,200 to ease out of the lockdown the country's been in since mid-October.
But on Sunday, the RIVM reported 6,814 new infections, with that jumping up to 7,134 a day later. On Monday, the rolling average of daily infections neared 5,900 for the first time since November 13th, after five consecutive days where the average rose.
Ferd Grapperhaus, the Minister of Justice and Security, called the latest data “worrisome.”
Infections from last Monday through Sunday marked the first rise in the weekly tally in a month, increasing by 12 percent to 38,592. Last month, there were 5,777 new coronavirus infections per day on average.
A number of Ministers met with the cabinet's outbreak advisors at the Catshuis, Rutte's official residence in The Hague, on Sunday to discuss the state of affairs around the pandemic. While no official decisions are made at these weekly informal meetings, insiders did say afterwards that the government was unlikely to relax any measures over the festive season.