Mark Rutte said: “it’s better to be cautious now than regretful later”
Translated by Thomas Ansell
More than eight million people tuned in to the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s press conference yesterday evening. Children and youths will be able to return to some school and sports activities, but the general guidelines remain in place. As reported by nos.nl
Primary schools, and those that provide special needs assistance, may re-open from May 11. Primary School children will find their classes cut in half, with only one half in school each day. Extra-curricular activities may also go ahead from that date. Child-care centres may also open from May 11. Middle-school aged children may expect to go back to school on 2 June, but schools must find ways to maintain the 1.5-metre distancing rule.
“We hope that this change makes the lived of parents working from home easier”, said Rutte.
Rutte re-iterated the importance of going outside for walks, runs, or cycles, and also announced a gentle easing of regulations around sports, especially for children. Primary school aged children can look forward to sports in schools again from April 28 with no restrictions other than no competitions. Slightly older children will be able to play sports outside from April 28, too, but only if they keep to a 1.5-metre distance. No parents are allowed to watch, and all children will have to shower at home after. Professional sports people can train in certain locations again, but only if they also adhere to the 1.5-metre rule.
Rutte had less positive news for those that have social events in their diaries for the next few months: no events are allowed until September 1, and this also applies to ‘paid football’ matches. This means that the Dutch Eredivisie will not return until September.
Though not mentioned in the press conference, the Dutch cabinet also made it clear that people may again visit elderly people that live alone from April 29: however everyone must keep their distance, and no more than two people may visit at one time.
People may not visit relatives in hospital, and unfortunately for those that are suffering from ‘quarantine hair’, hairdressers and beauty salons must remain shut. A new decision will be made on May 19.
The general regulations have not been changed, and will now apply until at least May 20. Residents of the Netherlands must stay home as much as possible, work from home where possible, only do shopping in the supermarket alone, and must wash their hands as much as possible.
Though some may have been expecting a greater loosening of regulations, this first step still represents a chink of light for those feeling isolated at home. As Rutte summed up his speech: “first public health, then everything else”.