With this week seeing a record-breaking number of coronavirus infections, the Dutch government is meeting in The Hague on Thursday to discuss whether or not the current hard lockdown will remain in place beyond January 19.
COVID-19 infection rate on the rise in the Netherlands
After nine months of discussions, a new cabinet – dubbed RutteIV – took office on Monday. Only a few days later, the ministers have a big decision to make: with the next coronavirus press conference taking place on Friday, will the Netherlands stay in lockdown?
In the weekly report published by the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) on Tuesday, it was revealed that over 201.000 positive tests took place between January 4 and January 11 – a 77 percent increase on the week before – with 34,2 percent of tests carried by the GGD in this period coming back positive.
Meanwhile, hospital admissions continue to fall. On Wednesday, there were a total of 1.435 COVID-19 patients being treated in Dutch hospitals, 378 of which were in intensive care. At the beginning of the week, this figure was 1.535.
Dutch government facing increasing pressure to lift lockdown
While the infection rate remains high, the government is facing increasing pressure from all sides to ease at least some of the current restrictions. This week, the Dutch Psychiatric Association (NVnP) called on ministers to reopen higher education as soon as possible in order to prevent further psychological damage to students.
Non-essential shops and the hospitality industry are feeling similarly frustrated, with an increasing number of businesses across various Dutch cities deciding to open their doors to customers, regardless of the current COVID-19 rules.
Some mayors and municipalities have voiced their support for the decision. “In addition to paying attention to care, we argue in favour of balancing the various social, societal and economic effects and looking at the conditions under which society can open safely in the short term,” the municipality of Leeuwarden writes on its website.
Will Friday’s coronavirus press conference look different?
With pressure mounting, newly appointed Health Minister Ernst Kuipers prepares for his first coronavirus press conference on January 14. Earlier this week, Kuipers told the press that more information was needed about the Omicron variant, and that it was too early to know what effect the current wave would have on hospital admissions.
With Hugo de Jonge gone, what will Friday’s press conference look like? AD reports that some minor changes should be expected, for example, the speeches could be cut slightly, and more visual material could be used in order to better explain the situation.