New coronavirus measures likely to include face mask mandate, expanded QR code use: Report
The Cabinet plans to reinstate mandatory requirements for face mask use in public indoor spaces, reported broadcaster NOS based on interviews with anonymous sources close to the government. Additionally, the use of coronavirus access passes will also be widely expanded, but the passes might not be granted to people on the basis of a negative coronavirus test.
It became clear last week that the government planned to change the national coronavirus policy. Over 1,200 patients with Covid-19 were in hospital care on Monday, nearly three-times the total on October 1. About 151 patients were admitted into care each of the past seven days. That average was 52 daily patients a month ago. Average daily coronavirus infections jumped from 1,664 at the start of October to 7,459 per day at the start of November.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge confirmed on Monday only that it was certain that new measures will be implemented, but would not confirm any details of the Cabinet's plans as they have not been finalised. De Jonge and Prime Minister Mark Rutte will hold a press conference on Tuesday evening to announce policy details. The new rules could be in place as early as Friday, and will likely be re-evaluated in two weeks.
New face mask rules, stricter coronavirus pass usage
The politicians are expected to say that face masks will be required to be worn by people in indoor spaces which are accessible to the public, NOS reported. This will also include visits to close contact professionals, but it has not been determined if retail locations, grocery stores, and other shops will be included in the requirement.
Coronavirus admission passes will also be required to enter more locations, and not only at hospitality businesses, theaters, cinemas, and events. Sources told NOS that the passes will be mandatory to visit fitness centers and swimming pools, but also areas where there is a constant flow of people, such as museums, theme parks, and zoos.
Currently, access passes are granted to people who have tested negative for coronavirus within a 24-hour period, those who have recently recovered from the infection, and people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. The Cabinet is considering putting a temporary halt to issuing the pass to people who have tested negative for the viral infection. The pass is most often given as a QR code in the CoronaCheck app.
Additionally, it may eventually be necessary for a worker to have a QR code if they want to enter the workplace. Access passes may also eventually be required at higher education and vocation schools.
The broadcaster also reported that workers who can perform their job remotely will be encouraged to work from home at least 50 percent of the time.
Health minister confirms inevitability of new coronavirus measures
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said on Monday that "we will have to take measures again," but he was unwilling to confirm what plans are on the table, according to a report by newswire ANP. A final decision will be made by the Cabinet on Tuesday, with the aim of preventing hospitalizations of people not vaccinated against Covid-19.
"We see that about 1,200 people have now been admitted to hospitals with coronavirus. We do not want to get into the situation where that leads to scaling down all the health care that patients apart from coronavirus patients also need," he said.
De Jonge said he wants to prevent many different types of restrictions from being imposed on society, and that the "most appropriate" measures will be chosen. This is among the questions the Cabinet posed to the Outbreak Management Team.