Justice Min. defends lockdown; Amsterdam hospital leader wants terraces opened
Despite disapproval from the mayors of the four largest Dutch cities, Minister of Justice Ferdinand Grapperhaus said the government will not budge in the decision to extend most lockdown measures at least until April 28, the ANP reported. The extension, including the continued closure of cafe terraces, was met with backlash from some leaders and experts.
Grapperhaus emphasized that infection rates are still too high to safely open terraces. “From an epidemiological standpoint, it is not feasible to open terraces responsibly”, he responded. The government decided to postpone loosening restrictions from April 21 until April 28 due to the increasing number of average daily coronavirus infections, and with the hospital system overloaded with Covid-19 patients.
Chairman of the Dutch Hospital Association (NVZ), Ad Melkert, viewed the government's decision as sensible given that hospitals are still under immense pressure to provide treatment to all patients.
Not all medical professionals agreed with the lockdown extension. The Chair of Amsterdam hospital OLVG, Maurice van den Bosch, spoke out in support of the mayors of the four largest cities who want terraces to open back up on April 21 as was initially expected. In a tweet on Sunday, van den Bosch wrote, “We agree with the mayors that controlled opening of outdoor areas like this helps prevent infections by combating unregulated contact.”
The mayors of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague und Utrecht disagreed with this decision because they worried people will instead meet in large groups in parks and other public spaces the moment the weather turns warm.
“In densely populated areas, inhabitants are in dire need of outdoor spaces where they can meet”, the mayors said. They fear that with large crowds gathering outdoors it will become difficult to enforce coronavirus measures.
On Monday afternoon, Grapperhaus will meet with the four mayors in the Security Council to discuss the matter further. “Then we will talk about it properly”, the minister said.