09 November 2021, by Victoria Séveno

Various Dutch hospitals have called on the government to introduce a ban on large-scale events in the Netherlands, but the cabinet has said it is up to mayors and municipalities to decide whether events can go ahead. 

Dutch hospitals call for national ban on large-scale events

With the infection rate rising and another coronavirus press conference only a few days away, many are considering what new measures could potentially be announced in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. While November 2 saw the reintroduction of a handful of rules and restrictions, a number of Dutch hospitals have joined a call for large festivals and events to be cancelled. 

“The pressure on hospitals is extremely high,” a spokesperson for Acute Care Euregio – a network of healthcare institutions in the eastern part of the Netherlands – told RTL Nieuws. “If large-scale events take place indoors, it cannot but lead to extra demand for care. There are more victims because operations have to be postponed again.”

The call comes as municipalities in Limburg announced the decision to cancel upcoming carnival celebrations as a result of the rising number of infections, and as various Dutch cities finalise plans for Sinterklaas’ arrival. But Justice Minister, Ferd Grapperhaus, says the Dutch government won’t introduce a blanket ban on large-scale events. 

“This is really a local decision,” Grapperhaus said on Monday. “The new measures leave room to decide locally how to deal with such outdoor events, for example with a coronavirus certificate.” 

Will the government announce new restrictions for the Netherlands? 

If a national ban on events isn’t on the cards, what might Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge say on Friday? If the figures published by the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) on Tuesday afternoon turn out to be higher than expected, then De Jonge says it would be difficult to avoid announcing additional measures on November 12.

Another factor that will play a key role in the government’s decision is whether or not the public is sticking to the restrictions that came into effect over the weekend: “Do we see in people’s behaviour that the message has been properly understood? Do we stick better to the basic measures? I await the information and advice from the Outbreak Management Team before anticipating new measures,” De Jonge says.

At the last press conference on November 2, it was confirmed that the government is working on expanding the use of coronavirus certificates in the Netherlands, and that a rule requiring the use of QR codes in the workplace could be on the way. De Jonge also refused to rule out the possibility of regional measures for coronavirus hotspots.

While it is unlikely that the government will introduce a so-called 2G system where only proof of recovery or proof of vaccination are accepted as valid coronavirus certificates, virologist Gorben Pijlman does expect that stricter measures are on the way.

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