Cabinet expected to drop most coronavirus measures by Feb. 25: Report
Sources close to the Cabinet told broadcaster NOS that the there is a high likelihood that most coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands will be eliminated on February 25. The Cabinet is also expected to largely end the domestic use of coronavirus access passes, but will continue to utilize a system for large events where everyone is required to test negative for the infection before being allowed to enter.
A final decision is anticipated on Tuesday. The Outbreak Management Team gave a go-ahead for the Cabinet to relax more restrictions, and shorten the recommended isolation time to five days when a positive infection is uncovered, according to newswire ANP.
Health Minister Ernst Kuipers is expected to announce during a press conference at 7 p.m. on Tuesday that only the most basic measures will remain. Those include recommendations related to hygiene, ventilation, and avoiding contact with others. Additionally, people will still be advised to get tested for the coronavirus infection if they develop symptoms of Covid-19.
Starting on Friday, hospitality businesses will also be allowed to expand their opening hours to 1 a.m. One week later, on February 25, a return to normal closing times is likely. Most, if not all, face mask obligations will be scrapped, as will rules related to social distancing. The urgent advice that people work from home as much as possible will also be ended, the broadcaster reported.
Coronavirus access passes may still be necessary to travel abroad if destination countries require them. Within the Netherlands, the passes are not expected to be used anymore at most locations where they are currently required, but will remain a tool available to the Cabinet if the pandemic situation escalates.
However, the use of the coronavirus passes will still be needed to attend festivals and events with many attendees, NOS reported. Instead of the current 3G passes, the Cabinet wants to switch to the 1G system for those events. That means those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and those who recently recovered from the disease will need to present proof of a negative coronavirus test to gain entry, as will those who are unvaccinated or who have not recently recovered.
Kuipers said earlier on Monday that he thought it was very plausible that most coronavirus restrictions would be eliminated by early March. Details already leaked out about hospitality times reopening, but there had been a lack of clarity about the future of the nightclub sector.
The health minister will present the policy changes by himself, and without Prime Minister Mark Rutte.