Gov't unlikely to relax rules for Christmas as Covid figures rise
The number of new coronavirus infections is currently too high to consider relaxing measures around the Christmas holidays, the government concluded in a meeting in the Catshuis, Prime Minister Mark Rutte's residence, in The Hague on Sunday, insiders told ANP.
A large part of the cabinet discussed the situation around the Covid-19 pandemic with a number of experts, including director Jaap van Dissel of public health institute RIVM. No official decisions are made during these informal weekly meetings. Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge will give definite information on what the Christmas season will look like in the Netherlands during a press conference on Tuesday. No relaxations are expected, but neither are any major additional measures, ANP's insiders said.
The number of coronavirus infections in the Netherlands is rising again, despite the country being in a partial lockdown since mid-October. On Sunday, the RIVM reported 6,814 new positive Covid-19 tests, the fifth day in a row that there were more positive tests than the average over the previous seven days. The government had hoped that the measures in place would decrease the daily positive tests to around 3 thousand by now.
According to ANP, the government presented various possible scenarios to the Outbreak Management Team (OMT), a team of scientists advising the government how to handle the pandemic. These included reopening restaurants, increasing the limit on group sizes, and extending the Christmas holidays for schools.
The news wire's insiders consider it unlikely that restaurants will be allowed to reopen this month, and schools will likely not get a longer Christmas holiday. But the discussion on increasing the maximum number of guests you're allowed to receive at home is still ongoing. Currently that is limited to a maximum of three guests per day, with the exception of children up to 12. Last month the OMT advised that Christmas should be celebrated in the home circle, with a maximum of six guests.
Menno de Jong of the OMT told Amsterdam broadcaster AT5 on Sunday that a relaxation of measures around Christmas is not advisable. The infection numbers are simply too high. "If you look purely from the virus pressure and the fight against the virus, then it is better not to do anything."