Rutte: Lockdown extension decision to come on Tuesday
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that no final decision has been made about whether or not to extend the hard lockdown which the Netherlands entered amid escalating coronavirus infections on December 15. He said it would be “unusual” to scale down social restrictions at a time when infections remain high.
The daily average of people testing positive for the viral infection was virtually unchanged on Friday at 7,743 compared to the days leading up to the lockdown. “If it’s true that the infections are still too high, then unfortunately, the number of infections will not decrease by opening sectors,” Rutte said during his regular weekly press conference.
The Cabinet’s plan calls for daily infections to be slashed by more than half before relaxing restrictions. They would need to fall by nearly 85 percent to 1,200 before society could more fully reopen. The Prime Minister also was not willing to give any clarity when asked about whether or not schools, daycares, and after school care centers would remain closed.
“It is still too busy in hospitals," Rutte said. While the situation in the hospitals has seemingly started to improve over the past few days, they were at 85 percent of capacity, and one in five patients has Covid-19, according to the LCPS. “The healthcare sector wants to be able to return to normal operations again; treat people with other ailments such as cancer. That is also why the pressure of coronavirus on healthcare must be reduced.”
Originally, the harsh restrictions implemented on December 15 were planned to be relaxed on January 19. Rutte has previously stated he is “not hopeful” that the lockdown will be relaxed this month.
Cabinet ministers will meet on Sunday with members of the Outbreak Management Team of advisors to discuss the situation at the Prime Minister’s official residence. Acute care leader Ernst Kuipers has already expressed his opinion that the restrictions should not be relaxed.
A decision was likely to be announced on Tuesday. Regardless, Rutte said that it was crucial people continue to follow the coronavirus restrictions even though vaccinations against Covid-19 are underway. “It will really take a while before we as a whole nation notice that vaccinating is gaining momentum,” he said.
”Our view is that we will be done with this misery later this year.”