Outbreak Team: Reopen everything with 8 p.m. closing time
The Outbreak Management Team said in their latest advice to the Cabinet that all establishments can reopen until 8 p.m., sources in The Hague told the NRC. The sources also told the newspaper that there could be an exception for cultural institutions, such as cinemas, theaters, and sports events, to stay open until 10 p.m.
If the cultural and catering sector were to reopen next week, the sources said, it would, in any case, be under certain conditions, such as the use of the Covid access pass and fixed seating.
The Cabinet will debate on how to update the coronavirus policy on Monday. The day after, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Ernst Kuipers will announce any changes during an evening press conference.
The cultural and hospitality sectors were frustrated, they were not allowed to reopen along with the retail industry last Saturday. Some restaurants, cafes and bars opened despite restrictions to protest the coronavirus restrictions. On Wednesday, 70 museums and 60 theaters hosted hairstylists, gym classes, or masseuses as a protest against the coronavirus measures.
Rutte said during a press conference after the Council of Ministers that he was "moderately optimistic" that restrictions would be lifted for the hospitality sector. He said that the Cabinet would first look towards the catering and cultural sector, which are currently most heavily impacted by the coronavirus measures.
The Dutch Cabinet last implemented an evening lockdown on November 28 as the Omicron variant emerged in the Netherlands. At the time, about 22,500 coronavirus infections were diagnosed daily. Infections started to slow down, but not enough as a more complete all-hours lockdown was ordered three weeks later.
Still, infections began to shoot up just after Christmas, but hospitalizations due to Covid-19 steadily fell. That led the Cabinet to allow schools to resume in-person classes and release several other lockdown restrictions eight days ago.
About 40,000 people tested positive for the coronavirus each of the past seven days, including a record 57,500 reported on Friday. Though hospitalizations ticked up slightly the last few days, they remain near a three-month low.