Next lockdown reopening phase already uncertain, health minister warns
Caretaker Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said on Friday that if a next step of lockdown relaxations is shunned by the Outbreak Management Team (OMT), the upcoming weekend meeting of Cabinet ministers to discuss the issue at the Catshuis will be cancelled. The OMT was set to discuss the issue on Friday, according to newswire ANP.
"We are looking into it from week to week. If we see that there is no space for further relaxations and that it is better to wait, then a Catshuis meeting does not make much sense," said De Jonge. The second reopening phase was tentatively planned to take place on May 11, though the Cabinet said that date could change as the situation dictated.
This stage involves allowing zoos and amusement parks to welcome visitors again, and should also see indoor sports activities being resumed. Wednesday saw the reopening of terraces, the elimination of shopping-by-appointment at retailers, and the elimination of the curfew as the first of the government’s six-step gradual reopening plan.
The OMT already warned that the gradual easing of coronavirus measures must be halted immediately if the number of hospital admissions for Covid-19 shows a dramatic increase, particularly in intensive care units. Prior to this week, members of the OMT strongly advised the Cabinet to postpone the relaxation of the measure until it became more clear that the third wave of the pandemic had ended. The government decided to proceed with reopening based on more favorable RIVM models that forecast a decrease in the number of daily admissions.
De Jonge again emphasized that the Cabinet does not intend to take any risks now that according to him the end of the crisis was in sight thanks to the country's faster vaccine rollout.
Some 2,704 people with Covid-19 were being treated in hospitals across the country on Thursday, the highest total number reported since January 7.