Cabinet wants to stop social distancing rules in September, end all coronavirus restrictions in November: Report
The caretaker Cabinet in the Netherlands wants to put an end to its advice that people maintain 1.5 meters of distance from each other by the third week of September. It also is examining if it can do away with rules mandating that travelers using public transportation wear face masks, sources in government told broadcaster NOS.
The political leaders also want more advice from the Outbreak Management Team to determine if more rules can be relaxed for bars, cafes and restaurants at that time. The broadcaster said that looser rules will only be possible if the number of coronavirus infections and Covid-19 hospitalizations permit it.
When the government released nearly all coronavirus measures except advice about social distancing, it almost immediately led to a 15-fold surge in coronavirus infections. That surge abated when the government reintroduced restrictions that cancelled multi-day events, closed nightclubs, and forced cafes to shut by midnight. Coronavirus infections in the Netherlands have been above the government’s alarming level for 40 days in a row.
Still, the Cabinet believes that all of its measures to slow the spread of coronavirus will be able to be lifted in November, NOS said. Nightclubs would be able to reopen by that point, if not sooner. These projections are despite the fact that public turnout for Covid-19 vaccinations has slowed substantially. Fewer than 900 thousand vaccine doses are expected to be placed this calendar week, less than half of the total for the week ending June 13.
Details about looser restrictions could be announced during a press conference on Friday evening when Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge update the public on the national coronavirus situation and the corresponding adjustments to the country’s pandemic response.
Anonymous sources told several news outlets on Thursday that the politicians will announce that social distancing will no longer be required in higher education starting at the end of the month. Face masks will still be encouraged when students are in-between fixed locations, and one-way walking routes and ventilation rules are expected to remain.
Roughly 64 percent of those born from 1996 to 2003 have received at least a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Sources also told newswire ANP and De Telegraaf that social distancing rules in secondary schools will remain for the time being, as will face mask rules. This is because many teenagers have only recently been given the opportunity to get vaccinated against Covid-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
About 43 percent of people born between 2004 and 2009 are at least partially vaccinated against the disease.
The government was also expected to state that the Formula 1 race set for Zandvoort, Noord-Holland will be allowed to go ahead with a public audience. The race weekend is set for September 3-5, and the audience could be restricted to two-thirds capacity.