Municipalities to give low income households free face masks, Covid self-tests
Municipalities will receive Covid-19 self-tests and face masks from the government next month to hand out to people with low incomes. About six tests and six masks will be available per person until May 1, the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and, Sports reported. Thirty municipalities with a low vaccination rate and a high number of infections will receive extra masks and tests.
The Ministry will provide 10 million face masks and 10 million self-tests for people with a low income until May 1. The municipalities with many infections and low vaccination coverage will get 5.5 million of each during that period. These can be used for a "neighborhood-oriented approach," aimed at neighborhoods where the situation is deemed most worrying. This includes neighborhoods in cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague, but it mainly concerns less urban municipalities outside the Randstad, including Urk, Tholen, and Vaals.
The Outbreak Management Team recommended making self-tests free for everyone. Its most recent advice to the government recommended doing so on "behavioral" grounds. The idea is that this removes a barrier to getting tested for Covid-19 more often. Despite this, Health Minster Ernst Kuipers said on Wednesday that the Cabinet is not prepared to make free face masks and tests available to everyone. "We do not consider this a public facility."
Reporting by ANP.