Dutch health min. confirms lockdown easing likely continues on June 5
The Netherlands is very likely going to press forward with the third stage of coronavirus lockdown easing on Saturday, June 5, said Health Minister Hugo de Jonge on Wednesday. He was very optimistic about the latest data about coronavirus infections, Covid-19 hospitalizations, and Covid-19 vaccination progress in the country.
He said that, "all numbers that need to fall are falling, and all numbers that need to rise are rising." The Cabinet will make a final decision about which restrictions will be relaxed on Friday. The decision will be announced at a press conference this Friday evening, but was likely to include allowing all hospitality businesses, including restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs, to allow a maximum of thirty people indoors depending on the size of the facility, broadcaster NOS reported.
The latest government roadmap to exiting lockdown is a six-step plan presented by De Jonge and Prime Minister Mark Rutte at a press conference in April. It states that at the third step allows cafes and restaurants to serve customers indoors, cultural institutions like museums can open their doors to visitors, and venues like cinemas and theaters can host ticket holders. The use of indoor sports facilities, and participation in more outdoor sports activities is also allowed.
Additionally, hospitality establishments that serve mostly alcohol, and not food, may also be allowed to serve guests inside. Justice and Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said he backed a plan that eliminated the distinction between restaurants, cafes, and pubs, as bars have been largely unable to serve takeaway guests during the lockdown, unlike locations which serve food.
Coronavirus testing may also be used to permit access to larger events. The next step could also see an expansion of household visitors to a maximum of four people per day.
The likely reopening already leaked out on Saturday following a meeting of Cabinet ministers and Outbreak Management Team members. They were gathered at Catshuis, the official residence of the prime minister, to discuss the prospect of allowing all secondary school students to return to classrooms as early as next week.
Last week, De Jonge said the Cabinet could accelerate plans if the coronavirus situation continued to improve in the Netherlands. Coronavirus infection rates and new Covid-19 hospitalizations have fallen by more than half since third wave peaks. The current Covid-19 hospitalized patient total returned to levels not seen since December, when the Netherlands initiated a harder lockdown. Last week was also the first calendar week where more than a million people received a Covid-19 vaccination.
Originally, a press conference on the third reopening step was slated for Tuesday, June 1. The third step would then be undertaken no sooner than June 9.