Mandatory face mask rule could be abolished next week, Heath Minister says
The rule obligating people to wear face masks in many indoor public spaces in the Netherlands could disappear as early as next week, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said after a meeting of ministers on Wednesday. The final decision will be made on Friday prior to the next prime time coronavirus press conference, he told reporters gathered outside.
“We are reassessing all measures. Which measures are still necessary, and which can be removed,” said De Jonge after consultation with his colleagues. “We are vaccinating very quickly, and then you weigh, what measures are still needed? I think we can say goodbye to quite a few measures, but some will still be needed.”
The Dutch government is rumored to be accelerating its lockdown exit strategy by simultaneously moving forward with steps four and five of its six-step plan on June 26. The decision will expand the opening hours for hospitality businesses and performance venues and will increase the number of people allowed at many of these locations to 100. Now, the elimination of face masks is also being seriously considered, De Jonge confirmed.
The decision was made as the Covid-19 hospitalization and coronavirus infection figures in the Netherlands have fallen sharply to nine-month lows, in addition to the increasing speed people are getting vaccinated against Covid-19. Earlier rumors suggested the two lockdown easing steps would be taken on June 30, though step 5 was originally slated for later in July.
The vast majority of Netherlands residents, 72 percent, want the government to scrap the face mask rule sooner, a survey of over 3,500 people showed. Members of the Outbreak Management Team advocated for this very thing on Tuesday.
"We'll look at everything on Friday, then we will inform people about it," De Jonge said.