Bars, restaurants to close nightly at midnight; Strict limits on event attendance planned: Report
Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge will introduce a new set of coronavirus restrictions on Friday evening which will take effect starting at midnight. The package of measures will include closing all cafes, bars and restaurants nightly by midnight, and limiting the use of access testing for entry to many locations, government sources told RTL Nieuws.
A press conference was announced for 7 p.m. Rutte, De Jonge, and the Cabinet have received advice from the Outbreak Management Team about how to deal with a sharp rise in coronavirus infections that began on July 1, days after most coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands were withdrawn on June 26.
Access testing has been used since then to allow access to most hospitality businesses, nightclubs, cultural venues and events which want to open their doors to full capacity. Those allowed entry must be able to use the CoronaCheck app to prove that they have been fully vaccinated for 14 days, or that they produced a negative coronavirus test result 40 hours before entering a venue.
Instead, the Cabinet wants to limit access testing only to those locations where people remain in a fixed location, like a theater seat, during their stay, sources told RTL Nieuws. This was believed to be legally difficult to accomplish, the broadcaster wrote without elaborating.
Additionally, a maximum of one thousand people will be allowed for events held outdoors. Indoor events will also be capped at a maximum of 500 people. If access testing may not be used for entrance to these events, organizers will presumably have to limit attendance further if they cannot guarantee attendees can remain separated by 1.5 meters of space.
With a strict limit on attendance, many festivals could choose to cancel events out of profit concerns.
It was not immediately clear how long the restrictions will remain in place. Dutch Cabinet ministers have said they are worried that the country will become a Code Red area to the rest of the European Union, which may make it difficult for people to travel from the Netherlands to another country, and could lead other nations to restrict their residents from traveling to the Netherlands.
There is also a growing concern about the impact of coronavirus infections on younger people. While they may not need to go to a hospital for Covid-19 treatment, they could suffer from symptoms of Long Covid months, and possibly years later.