Household visitor limit to remain at 3 for Christmas; Vaccines to go to care workers first
The Dutch government will not expand the number of guests a household is permitted to receive before Christmas, government sources told broadcasters RTL Nieuws and NOS, as well as the Telegraaf. The current rules, in effect since Nov. 19, allow for no more than three guests per household, per day, not including children up to and including 12 years of age.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge were scheduled to hold a press conference on Tuesday evening to discuss the current situation in the Netherlands. After falling coronavirus figures during the first half of November, there had been some optimism about expanding the number of guests for the winter holidays.
However, the situation took a turn for the worse last week, with new infections up 27 percent. On each of the past seven days, public health agency RIVM announced a daily total that was higher than the rolling average. Hospital admissions for Covid-19 were also back on the rise for the first time since early November.
That information combined led the Cabinet to decide that expanding the number of guests to as many as six people was simply not a sensible decision, RTL Nieuws reported. It was also reported this week that no other coronavirus rules would be relaxed, though there may be some willingness to allow more people to participate in team sports. Sources also said that schools would not close for an extra week of winter vacation.
Vaccine eligibility changes
Rutte and De Jonge were also expected to shed light on changes to the government's vaccination strategy. Unnamed sources told NRC and NOS that the first batch of 900 thousand vaccine doses from Pfizer will be used to first inoculate workers in healthcare and the staffs of other care facilities instead of the elderly and those with vulnerable health conditions.
Because the vaccine from Pfizer requires storage at -70 degrees Celsius, the RIVM recommended to set up large centralized vaccination locations for these workers. This was more reasonable, they advised, than attempting to transport and store the doses at the country's thousands of nursing homes and facilities for people with disabilities.
The Pfizer vaccine requires two injections, meaning up to 450 thousand workers will be eligible for early protection. There are 625 thousand workers in total who will qualify for the first batch of vaccine doses, NOS reported.