No room for relaxing measures in culture sector; Pressure on healthcare still high, Ministers say
For the time being, there is no room to relax the coronavirus measures in the culture sector, said caretaker Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven (Culture) before the Council of Ministers on Friday. According to her, the coronavirus figures are not yet "such that there is room for a lot of relief." Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said that the pressure on healthcare is still very high.
Due to the current coronavirus measures, museums, theaters, popo venues, and concert halls are only allowed to be open between 5:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Inside, visitors must keep 1.5 meters apart, and no more than 1,250 people are allowed in a room. As long as these measures are in place, the sector will receive financial support. Van Engelshoven said that the Cabinet is examining the coronavirus support for the coming period.
De Jonge said it is nice that the number of Covid-19 infections is starting to decline, but he pointed out that there are still many coronavirus patients in the hospitals and the ICUs. There is also a lot of uncertainty around the Omicron variant, he said, according to NOS. "A lot of regular care is still scaled down; we really have a lot of work to do to make sure the numbers actually go down."
The cultural sector responded with surprise to the announced purchase of the Rembrandt painting The Standard Bearer. The Cabinet promised 150 million euros for this purchase. The Panorama Mesdag museum in The Hague called it "abrasive," especially now that many museums are "on life support" because of the coronavirus.
Van Engelshoven said she is looking at how the money from the current support packages ends up with those who need it, like the self-employed. She will inform parliament about this next week.
Dennis Wiersma, responsible for the support packages as State Secretary for Social Affairs, also thinks it logical that 'if there are measures, there is support." But he didn't want to anticipate what that would look like just yet. "What it looks like depends on whether the measures continue or not. We will discuss that in the coming days."
The Cabinet will decide what adjustments should be made to the coronavirus rules on Tuesday. Prime Minister Mark Rutte and De Jonge will announce the decision in a press conference on Tuesday evening.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times