Netherlands restricts cafe & event access amid coronavirus spike; Rutte: Keep groups small
NL Times has also provided a full list of all coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands as of July 10.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed on Friday that the government will tighten up coronavirus restrictions to limit the hospitality industry and live events sectors in the Netherlands starting at 6 a.m. on Saturday. The stricter rules will remain in place until at least August 13. The announcement was made just two weeks after nearly all coronavirus rules were abandoned in the country, leading to an almost immediate exponential rise in infections of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, particularly the Delta variant.
Rutte repeatedly denied that the government relaxed restrictions too quickly during the 70-minute press conference. "We don't think we have been going too fast," he said. "Then it was the logical decision. The increase in the number of infections is going faster than we thought. Thus, you have to take measures again." He refused to blame young people or the recently reopened catering industry for the spike in infections, though last week the vast majority of infections occurred in people under the age of 30.
"All figures were falling hurriedly, except for the rapidly rising vaccination rate. Now we are seeing a huge spike in the number of infections among young people, more than we had foreseen. Stepping on the brakes sucks, but is unavoidable," De Jonge said. He pointed out that the country has gone from 500 infections daily to 7,000 on Friday alone. Although young people represent the most infections, their friends and family include people who have vulnerable health conditions or who haven't yet been vaccinated, he pointed out.
Rutte said that the Cabinet did not want to repeat mistakes made last year by not reintroducing national restrictions faster to stall the second and third wave of infections. "Last year, we learned the lesson that we have to act more firmly than local measures alone."
Just because the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital care is at a 10-month low is no reason to relax, De Jonge continued. "There is a real risk, especially in the big cities, that people will end up in hospitals again."
Despite that risk, there is no plan to reintroduce a mandate that people wear a face mask in indoor public spaces.
Nightclubs close completely, hospitality businesses close early, events more limited in size
Nightclubs and discotheques will not be allowed to open at all, and all bars, cafes, and restaurants will be required to be closed from midnight to 6 a.m. The businesses will only be allowed to welcome guests if they are assigned fixed seating, and customers are kept at a distance of 1.5 meters away from each other. They will not be permitted to open their doors to full capacity using access testing.
The venues will not be allowed to present live performances of any kind. Additionally, fixed seating will also be required at all events and sporting competitions with attendees separated by 1.5 meters from each other.
"Events with overnight stays will not be possible," Rutte stated. Event capacity will be allowed at up to two-thirds and event attendees will not have to remain 1.5 meters apart from each other if organizers screen for proof of a negative coronavirus test, coronavirus recovery certificate, of full vaccination certificate at entry. However, the fixed seating will remain a requirement, which will put a damper on the country's most prominent outdoor music festivals.
Testing for access must be carried out within 24 hours of entry, down from 40 hours. The period of 24 hours was advice given by the Outbreak Management Team last month, but the Cabinet opted to use the longer time limit instead.
Rutte also asked residents of the country not to gather in massive groups, but to act with a degree of personal responsibility knowing that the crisis is ongoing. "I am talking about parties, barbecues and drinks. We all want to meet again, and we can, but do it wisely, be responsible. Keep parties small and manageable, and keep 1.5 meters away."