Netherlands opens up: Major set of Covid restrictions dropped today
Saturday marks the day the Netherlands will drop a large number of its coronavirus measures as the government moves on with the fourth and fifth steps of its six-step plan to exit the lockdown.
One significant change will be that face masks are no longer required indoors, as long as a 1.5-meter distance can be maintained between people. This includes, for example, retail stores, gyms and museums. In locations where 1.5-meter distance cannot be maintained, such as in public transport, secondary schools and airports, the face mask mandate continues to apply.
Nightclubs will also be allowed to open their doors again, provided visitors are fully vaccinated or can provide proof of a negative coronavirus test that was completed in the past 40 hours. With the same requirements, larger-scale events with registered attendees in advance are allowed to continue as of June 30. Entrance to clubs and events will require a QR code generated from the CoronaCheck app, which some users had issues using on Thursday and Friday.
Restaurants, cafés and bars no longer have restrictions on their opening hours or the sale of alcohol. This also includes coffeeshops. Right on time for the UEFA European Championships, entertainment such as large television screens are also permitted at least on terraces in major cities. Both professional and amateur sports matches can take place again, along with an audience to cheer the players on.
The culture sector is also allowed to operate again at 100 percent capacity, provided 1.5-meter distance can be maintained, which is good news for museums, theaters, cinemas and the like. Increasing capacity without maintaining the distance requirement may be permitted if the CoronaCheck app is used along with registering attendees.
There are no more restrictions as to how many people are allowed to meet up in a group, or how many guests can be welcomed at home.
The plans were announced on June 18 in a press conference with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge. "The Netherlands is taking a big step. The end of the crisis is in sight”, Rutte stated during the conference.
The step was possible largely thanks to rising Covid-19 vaccination numbers and warmer temperatures prompting coronavirus infection numbers to decrease. Nonetheless, some experts warn we are not completely out of the woods yet. The delta variant has gained ground in the Netherlands and it has not been established how effective current vaccines are against coronavirus mutations. It is, therefore, still not clear if an additional lockdown will be necessary again in the Fall.