Major Covid lockdown changes unlikely, but children can now play more sports
The Outbreak Management Team and new Public Health Minister Ernst Kuipers see little room to relax lockdown restrictions later this week. Infections are rising fast, and there is still a lot of uncertainty about what this will mean for hospitals, Kuipers said to the media. One restriction that is relaxing a bit is that young people up to and including the age of 17 can play sports at their clubs for longer.
From today, children and teenagers can train outside until 8:00 p.m. instead of 5:00 p.m. The coronavirus measure for adults remains unchanged on this point. Matches and competitions are still banned, also for kids and teenagers.
But there is not much room for further lockdown relaxations, Kuipers said to the media shortly after the Rutte IV Cabinet was sworn in on Monday. "There is now very little room to relax a lot," the new Public Health Minister said, AD reports. "The number of infections is high." He does want to look at "what is possible," based on new OMT advice, but tried to temper expectations.
The Outbreak Management Team will meet again on Wednesday. The involved Ministers will meet on Thursday to discuss the OMT advice based on the latest figures from the public health institute RIVM. The OMT's advice to make medical face masks mandatory in all indoor spaces where different households gather, and some outdoor spaces will form part of this discussion. They'll decide on Friday, and there will be another press conference.
Kuipers said he hears the pleas for relaxation, but the OMT urged that caution be advised. While the new Omnicron variant seems to result in "half to two-thirds" fewer hospitalizations than the Delta variant, the number of occupied beds is still increasing in countries where the Omnicron peak has already approached. If those countries' situation is translated to the Netherlands, twice as many Covid patients will be admitted as the record reached in the spring of 2020. And the Dutch healthcare system can simply not handle that.
So if the Cabinet decides to change the lockdown measures, it will only be minor changes, according to Kuipers.