Exactly seven weeks since the government’s last coronavirus press conference, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge once again addressed the public and announced a handful of coronavirus measures at the press conference on Tuesday evening.
Dutch government pressured to combat rising COVID-19 infection rate
The next press conference wasn’t set to take place until November 5, but after facing mounting pressure from medical experts and Dutch hospitals, the government decided to bring it forward by a few days. As the number of coronavirus cases in the Netherlands continues to rise, Rutte said it would surprise no one that he once again had a difficult message for the public.
As the cabinet’s so-called emergency coronavirus law is no longer in place, the actions the Dutch government can take in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 are severely limited. For the time being, the government has ruled out the possibility of restrictions for those who remain unvaccinated, but it has been confirmed that the cabinet is working on developing the legislation required in order to enforce coronavirus certificates in the workplace.
While regional measures for so-called hotspots haven’t been introduced, De Jonge said they remain a possibility. The Outbreak Management Team (OMT) and municipalities have also called on the government to ensure the current rules are properly enforced.
Face masks once again mandatory in public indoor areas
As of November 6, the mandatory face mask rule will once again be in effect. As before, this rule will apply to all public indoor spaces, including:
- Shops and supermarkets
- Train stations
- Town halls and government buildings
- Public transport
- Universities and higher education institutions (public areas only, not in classrooms)
Those working in contact professions (i.e. hairdressers) will also once again be required to wear a mask. In areas where a coronavirus certificate is used, a face mask is not mandatory.
Furthermore, Rutte and De Jonge announced an extension to the current coronavirus certificate system. As of November 6, proof of vaccination, recent recovery, or a negative test will be required in the following places:
- Swimming pools
- Theme parks
- Bars and nightclubs (indoors and outdoors)
- Restaurants (indoors and outdoors)
- Concert halls
- Events (including professional and amateur sporting events)
An exception to the rule applies to events and activities organised for those under the age of 18.
Rutte issues urgent advice to keep distance
In addition to reintroducing the face mask rule and expanding the scope of the coronavirus certificate system, Rutte issued some urgent advice for the general public:
- Maintain 1,5-metre distance
- Work from home at least half of the time
- Limit travel within the Netherlands as much as possible
Booster shots announced for all aged 60 and above
Following the latest advice from the Health Council of the Netherlands, the press conference also saw Rutte and De Jonge announce that, from January 2022, so-called booster shots would be made available for everyone over the age of 60.
Starting in December 2021, people over the age of 80 will be offered a booster shot. This will also apply to all those over the age of 18 living in residential care.
The Netherlands extends some restrictions
In addition to the new rules and advice, some measures were extended and will remain in place:
- Restricted opening times for the catering industry (6 am – 12 am)
- Max. 75 percent capacity for indoor non-seated events
- Ensure proper ventilation in all indoor spaces
- If you’re showing symptoms of COVID-19 then stay home and get tested
The next coronavirus press conference is scheduled to take place on or after November 12.