10 January 2022, by Victoria Séveno

A mask mandate may currently be in place for indoor public areas and on public transport, but the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) feels that this rule should be expanded to also cover public outdoor areas. 

OMT calls for expansion of the Netherlands’ mask mandate

Ahead of this week’s coronavirus press conference, the OMT has published a series of recommendations for the new Dutch government. The most striking recommendation calls for the expansion of the current mask mandate.

In a document published on Monday morning, the OMT wrote that standard (non-medical) masks should be mandatory in all public indoor areas, regardless of whether or not the 1,5-metre distance rule is enforced, for all aged 13 and above. This would mark an extension of the current rules, with the OMT calling for masks to be worn when seated (unless a person is eating or drinking), and for masks to be mandatory in higher education and offices, as well as in indoor sports facilities (masks to be removed when exercising). 

In addition to this, the OMT called for surgical masks to be mandatory in busy outdoor areas where the 1,5-metre distance rule cannot be adhered to (for example on busy shopping streets or at protests).

Surgical masks recommended for public outdoor spaces

The current mask mandate in the Netherlands does not stipulate which kind of masks are required. The OMT, however, suggested that when outdoors, members of the public should use at least Type II surgical masks, writing that they “offer slightly better protection against the emission of virus particles into the environment” and “offer the wearer more protection against contracting an infection.”

In addition to expanding the mask mandate, the OMT has issued new advice for quarantine rules for schools and childcare. The experts feel that an entire class should go into isolation (staff included) only if three or more children test positive for COVID-19.

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