Coronavirus infection numbers have not fallen enough to justify relaxing the rules, says the Dutch PM
Translated by Thomas Ansell
As reported by the Omrop Fryslân, the Dutch government has decided not to change its Coronavirus laws over the Christmas period. Dutch PM Mark Rutte gave a press conference last night confirming the development. “Unfortunately the situation has not changed enough from the last few months. So, Dutch residents may only have three guests per day; restaurants are to remain shut, and a partial lockdown is still in place”, he said.
The PM did not dare to say when rules might be relaxed, and if infection numbers continue to rise then “we don’t rule out having another announcement before Christmas with stronger regulations”. Part of the regulations mean that there is to be no change in rules regulating how many people can meet to celebrate the holiday season: with people only allowed to receive three guests per day (children under 13 do not count).
“It’s unfortunate, and we had hoped to be able to do more”, said Rutte, who went on to explain that after the previous press conference the Dutch cabinet had hoped to plan for a relaxation allowing restaurants to open, more guests at home, and more group sports. However, with case numbers still gently rising (or slightly falling) each day the government have not been able to do that.
Rutte noted that the Christmas period this year is somewhat sadder for lots of people across the Netherlands. “Certainly for the families that have lost someone through the Coronavirus. There’s probably about 10,000 empty seats at Christmas tables this year”, he said.
Minister Hugo de Jonge (CDA), who is in charge of the vaccine roll-out in the Netherlands, gave a briefing about how vaccinations may be provided. “We’re not too far off, we’re basically at the night before the vaccine phase, which is our way out of this crisis”, he said. “First [to receive the vaccine] will be vulnerable people, and those that work in the health and care system. We’ll begin in old-age homes, in centres for handicap care, people that work in home care; and residents and staff in care homes.” De Jonge hopes that everyone over the age of 60 will be vaccinated by May, “and then we can move on to the rest of society”, he said.