Cabinet considering lockdown extension through Feb. 2
Dutch officials are looking into the possibility of extending the lockdown for two weeks past the initial end date of January 19, NOS reported based on interviews with anonymous government sources. The Cabinet is concerned that the number of daily new coronavirus infections is still too high after three weeks of a hard lockdown, which also covered the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
The seven-day rolling average of new infections has fallen for 15 days straight to 7,747. That was still slightly higher than on December 12, when Cabinet ministers met with advisors to discuss imposing the lockdown on society.
Those social restrictions included closing all schools and moving education online. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday that reopening the schools was a top priority, but refused to make any promises.
He also said he was not optimistic that the lockdown would be lifted, measures which include a strict daily limit on the number of guests allowed inside a home and an order that all non-essential stores remain shut. Bars and restaurants have also been closed since the middle of October.
Acute care leader Ernst Kuipers said on Wednesday that without a reduction in the number of infections there would be no justification to ending the lockdown. Kuipers and other members of the Outbreak Management Team will provide advice to the Cabinet on the issue.
The Cabinet was expected to make a formal announcement on the issue next week.