Dutch could reopen cafe terraces, universities in three weeks: Report
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is unlikely to announce any significant immediate changes to the coronavirus policy during a press conference on Monday. However, the caretaker Cabinet is expected to say that cafe terraces and in-person higher education classes will be allowed to open back up to the public in about three weeks if the coronavirus infection figures progress in the right direction.
Cafes, bars and restaurants have been barred from serving customers indoors or outdoors since mid-October. Nearly all university classes have been taught online since mid-December. Allowing in-person course instruction in the near-future would also likely include higher-level vocational programs.
Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge are also expected to announce the extension of the curfew through March 30, sources told NOS and Nu.nl. Previously, Rutte said that if the curfew extended beyond the March 15-17 election that election workers, ballot counters, and voters headed to and from their polling place would be exempt from the curfew.
There will be no mandate to get vaccinated against Covid-19. However, the Cabinet was also going to take a deeper look at how vaccination passports and negative rapid coronavirus tests might be a way to afford more space to reopen aspects of society, the sources told NOS.
In-store shopping and outdoor sports could restart later in March
More customers could also be allowed in stores in a few weeks’ time using calculations based on the amount of floor space a store has. Currently, all stores are allowed no more than two customers per floor at any given time, and up to six sets of customers per hour, regardless of the store’s square meters.
Outdoor sports may also be expanded for more adults at the end of the month. The Cabinet recently gave permission to groups of adults below the age of 27 to participate in outdoor team sports together, with limitations placed on competitions.
No immediate changes; Infection figures still disconcerting
For now, no significant relaxation of the rules will be announced. Expert advisors told Cabinet Ministers at a meeting on Saturday that the situation did not call for loosening up restrictions at the upcoming press conference, NOS reported.
The daily hospitalization average for new Covid-19 patients has also grown by over a third to 214 since February 7. The daily average of new coronavirus infections is nearing 4,600, a figure which has gotten 16 percent worse over the past month.
About 8.5 percent of people who get tested for coronavirus test positive, a figure which has improved from over 12 percent a month ago as more people scheduled their own tests after contact with an infected person. Still, there were renewed concerns about the basic reproduction of the virus, and the escalating number of people contagious with the coronavirus infection.