Outbreak team wants 2-week lockdown to stop Covid infections: report
The Outbreak Management Team advised the Cabinet to implement "lockdown-like" measures for two weeks to decrease coronavirus infections. Due to the severity of the situation, this cannot be avoided, sources around the OMT told NOS.
The OMT advised that the Cabinet must cancel events and close cinemas and theaters for the next two weeks. Schools can remain open. Sources told BNR that the OMT also advised earlier closing times for catering establishments and limiting group sizes.
The average number of daily coronavirus cases in the Netherlands is already at the highest point in 2021, and approaching a new record. That record will be set if the RIVM reports 12,250 new positive tests for the infection in its daily update of data on Thursday afternoon. Daily hospitalizations for Covid-19 are also at a six-month high. Some 1,647 people with the disease were being treated in hospitals on Wednesday, including 327 in the intensive care units.
The Cabinet and the Security Council will both gather on Thursday to discuss measures to lower coronavirus infections. The Cabinet will likely not implement measures aimed explicitly at unvaccinated people, sources told broadcaster NOS.
If the Cabinet announces more measures on Friday, the 2G system will not be part of it, insiders said to the broadcaster. In the 2G system, only vaccinated people and people who recovered from Covid-19 can get a coronavirus access pass to visit a restaurant or a museum, among other things. The name 2G refers to the two g's in 'gevaccineerd' and 'genezen' - Dutch for vaccinated and recovered.
The Netherlands currently works on a 3G system, in which people who tested negative for the coronavirus (getest) can also get an access pass. Countries around the Netherlands use the 2G system. But the Dutch government believes there's too little support for this in parliament.
The Cabinet will meet at the Catshuis - the Prime Minister's residence in The Hague - on Thursday to discuss what new measures are needed to stop the spread of the virus. The Ministers involved will be briefed by RIVM boss Jaap van Dissel, who will explain the Outbreak Management Team's advice. The experts on the OMT met on Wednesday.
The Security Council, which consists of the mayors that head the Netherlands' 25 security regions, will meet on Thursday evening to discuss the Cabinet's measures. The security regions are responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the coronavirus restrictions.
The mayors will meet digitally. At least Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security and likely Health Minister Hugo de Jonge will also attend. Depending on what measures the Cabinet decides on, the Sinterklaas arrival parties on Saturday may also be discussed. If strict measures are taken, the parties may be in trouble. Several municipalities have already adjusted their arrival parties due to the increasing infections.
The mayors have repeatedly emphasized that enforcement of the measures is a significant burden, especially if each municipality has to determine its own policy. The mayors also believe that the responsibility of managing the coronavirus crisis lies with citizens and entrepreneurs. As far as they are concerned, enforcement is the final step.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.