Lockdown extended: Terraces will not reopen on April 21; Curfew to remain
The possible reopening of cafe terraces and the elimination of the nightly mandatory curfew have been postponed, a spokesperson for the Cabinet told several news outlets on Sunday. The decision on the existing coronavirus lockdown measures was made during a meeting of Cabinet ministers and Outbreak Management Team advisors.
Instead of coronavirus measures being loosened up on April 21, the restrictions will be relaxed on April 28 if the latest data on infections and Covid-19 hospitalizations allow for it. The outgoing Health Minister, Hugo de Jonge, warned on Friday against 'too much optimism' on the RTL program Beau. Rumors swirled that plans to eliminate the lockdown would be announced at a press conference next week, but De Jonge said that he did not want to "anticipate" which decisions would be announced on Tuesday evening.
Government sources told RTL Nieuws and NOS last Wednesday that the administration was discussing the possibility of reopening outdoor terraces on April 21. Furthermore, options to open up shops to more customers and to eliminate the 10 p.m. curfew were also on the table.
That prospect became less likely as coronavirus infections began to rise again several days after the Easter holiday, and alarm bells were sounded about the high number of Covid-19 patients in hospital care. The Dutch Association of Hospitals said last week that it was astonishing that relaxations were even under consideration, given the ever-increasing number of infections and hospitalizations in the country. The number of patients in intensive care has continued to rise over the past seven days.
De Jonge said, "Of course, we are not going to do stupid things for the healthcare system." He also cautioned that "we think the third wave will be lower, but we are not over the peak yet."
Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte and De Jonge will hold another press conference on Tuesday in which they aim to outline a plan to gradually reopen society.