Netherlands may relax more coronavirus restrictions on June 5
The Dutch government could press forward with the third step of its lockdown easing plan on Saturday, June 5, four days earlier than planned. Restrictions involved in that stage include allowing many cafes and restaurants to serve customers indoors, permitting indoor cultural institutions to open back up, and allowing people to host a maximum of four guests in their home per day.
Step three also includes allowing cinemas, theaters, and other indoor venues to open their doors within limits. More sites may be allowed to open up with access testing. Additionally, the use of indoor sports facilities may be expanded, and a wider range of outdoor sports activities will be allowed. Group sizes will also be extended to four people from different households, according to the government's plan.
The Cabinet is considering easing the restrictions early because coronavirus infection figures and Covid-19 hospitalization totals have been on a sharp and steady decline for two weeks. The story was first reported by broadcaster NOS after speaking with an anonymous source close to the Cabinet.
Earlier this week, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said the Cabinet would consider accelerating its strategy if the coronavirus situation in the Netherlands improved faster than expected. He credited the Covid-19 vaccination program for making this possible, with over a million people likely to receive a vaccination shot this calendar week.
The first move towards eliminating the lockdown brought the curfew to end on April 28, as cafe terraces reopened on a small scale. Retailers were also permitted to let customers in without an appointment. The next step took place earlier this week, when gyms, swimming pools, cultural schools, zoos, amusement parks, libraries, and sex work facilities were also allowed to open back up.
When the reopening plan was introduced, the initial date under consideration for step 3 was June 1, but that plan was quickly scrapped at the beginning of May. At that time, the data showed the situation had barely improved so soon after the third wave peak emerged in the third week of April.
Currently, the seven-day average for new coronavirus infections is 50 percent lower than it was at its peak on April 23. Daily hospitalizations for Covid-19 are also down by 45 percent. The total number of coronavirus patients in care on Saturday is 36 percent lower than the most recent peak.
Ministers met on Saturday at the official residence of the prime minister to discuss the current state of the coronavirus crisis in the Netherlands. After the meeting wrapped up, Minister Arie Slob announced that secondary schools would be allowed to open back up to all students starting on May 31.