Dutch Cabinet wants to relax most lockdown restrictions by June 30: Report
The Cabinet of the Netherlands wants to eliminate most coronavirus lockdown restrictions as early as June 30, political sources told broadcaster NOS on Friday. The report was published just two hours before Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge were scheduled to hold a press conference likely to announce the third step of lockdown easing.
Cabinet ministers met on Friday to discuss the pandemic situation, and to give a final green light to moving forward with step three of the government's six-step plan out of lockdown. That could take effect on June 5, with hospitality businesses allowed to host guests indoors, movies and theaters able to welcome ticket holders, museums to open their doors to visitors, and an expansion in sports activities indoors and outdoors. Gatherings of up to 30 would also be allowed to depending on indoor floor space.
Sources told NOS that they want step 4 and step 5 to also be enacted by the end of June, with an increase in use in coronavirus tests to access some events and venues. The fourth phase calls for all bars to be allowed to open, a detail which could be already be moved up to June 5. It also grants permission to hold events and festivals, increase allowable group sizes to six, and to increase the maximum number of household guests to six. The maximum number of people allowed in a room, such as a meeting space or conference room, will reach 50. It also calls for an expansion of the number of people allowed at hospitality businesses, cultural institutions, and in sports participation.
Step five expands group and household visitor maximums to eight, while increasing meeting sizes up to 100. At this stage, amateur sports competitions are allowed to be held by athletes of all ages, instead of just inter-club scrimmages. It also gives more flexibility to hospitality businesses, which would be allowed to stay open until midnight. There will also be increased attendance allowed at museums, cultural institutions and other indoor venues.
The original plan was quickly delayed by a week, but originally had step 3 scheduled for June 9, followed by step 4 on June 30, and step 5 on July 21. The final step is releasing all other restrictions, including rules about face masks, working from home, and maximum group sizes. No provisional date has been given for that step.
De Jonge was also expected to specify any new problems with the Covid-19 vaccination program caused by Janssen Vaccine production delays. For months he has said that all adults in the Netherlands would get access to a first Covid-19 vaccine shot by the beginning of July, but he stepped back from that claim on Friday.