More than 7 million people tuned in to the Prime Minister and Health Minister’s address last night
Translated by Thomas Ansell
As reported by nos.nl, and the Groninger Internet Courant, last night Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) and Health Secretary Hugo de Jonge (CDU) held a press conference to update Dutch residents on the Coronavirus outbreak and the measures taken to combat it.
All regulations have been extended until April 28. This means that schools will have to stay shut, and the same with hotels, cafe’s, bars, and restaurants. The current advice to keep a 1.5-Metre distance between people will remain in place; and people have been asked to continue to stay home as much as possible. The Cabinet has decided not to take any further measures.
Activities by sole-traders such as hairdressers, masseuses, and nail salons must also remain shut.
Since April 28 falls within the May school holidays, students will be back at school on May 3 at the earliest. Rutte said that this is deliberate, and that that people may not be able to go on holiday in this period: “we want to minimise the amount of people travelling round the country. After April 28, we won’t immediately be going back to the old situation: so don’t make any plans for the May school holidays”, he said.
Holiday parks and camp grounds do not have to shut, but any shared toilet and shower facilities must be shut (some provinces such as Groningen had already brought in this rule). “We realise that we are asking lots of people, but it is really necessary”, said Rutte. The development of the virus, its spread in The Netherlands, and pressure on Intensive Care units mean that regulations cannot be relaxed at the moment. Though, Rutte did say that “there are cautiously positive signals around distribution of the virus”.
On April 21 (a week before the regulations are due to expire), the Dutch cabinet will meet again to consider. “We hope, naturally, that we can pick up parts of our normal lives then, but we don’t know for sure. It is possible that we will have to continue the regulations after 28 April”, said Rutte.
Minister De Jonge said that the cabinet was aware of 2,400 Intensive Care beds being available on Sunday. He announced that healthcare workers that have symptoms but do not work in a hospital will be able to get tests for the Coronavirus this week: this will also apply to workers in the home-care sector. At the moment, there is capacity for 4,000 tests per day, the Minister said. In short order that will be extended to 17,500 tests per day, and capacity will eventually reach 29,000 tests per day. At that point, testing will be rolled out more widely.
“I say again: keep this up! We have to keep to the agreements. The coming weeks will demand a lot from everyone’s adaptability and patience. This is not just over. Only together will we get past the Coronavirus”, said Rutte in conclusion.