The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Control (CIb) Prof. Dr. Jaap T. van Dissel during a press conference at the Ministry of Justice on coronavirus measures. Image Het Parool

Updates on COVID-19 measures adopted by the Dutch Government

April 21, 2020

The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Control (CIb) Prof. Dr. Jaap T. van Dissel presented updates on the government measures addressing coronavirus.

“I will say it outright: we are faced with diabolical dilemmas,” said the Dutch Prime Minister. He adds “The splitting effect is that any relaxation of measures carries risks”.

Summary:

  • All existing measures to be extended to Tuesday, May 19, 2020.
  • Child care centres, primary schools, out-of-school care and special education, to resume again on Monday, May 11, 2020. Primary schools must work out the details with the Dutch Ministry of Education. 
  • High schools to prepare for opening one month following the primary schools and MBOs, HBOs and universities advised to continue with distance learning.
  • In response to the request of many Dutch Mayors, the government has extended the initial ban public gathering to September 1, 2020. The ban applies to any event requiring a permit such as but not limited to fairs, festivals and sports competition with the public.  

Children and the Elderly

The Dutch Outbreak Management Team’s (OMT) advisory body states that the public health risk associated with opening childcare, primary schools, out-of-school care and special education after the May holidays is manageable.

Older people that live independently, they may receive some visitors. However, the Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM) recommends not visiting anyone over their 70s. They will soon be allowed to receive visitors if these are by one or two permanent family members or friends. The OMT strongly advises against relaxing the ban on visitors at nursing or care homes as the consequences can be dire.

Education

Primary Schools

The experts in the OMT do not conclusively agree on whether schools should open immediately or not as such the current guidance to advise schools to prepare for ‘partial occupancy school opening’. On this, the Dutch government is closely following the initiatives of the Scandinavian counties where schools are either already open or will open soon.

While primary schools are allowed to reopen but school management organisations are required to work out the details of any reopening directly with the Ministry of Education. Some suggestions on facilitating this include splitting students in smaller groups, call students in on alternating days or bring in students in different phases.

High schools

The government requires preparation for the resumption of activities one month after primary schools have been open.

MBOs, HBOs and Universities

Higher education and universities to continue acting on the previous guidance, i.e. provide distance learning for the time being. In support of this, the government recommends the institutions to consider making exceptions for internships and practical education. The OMT stated that resuming physical education in MBOs, HBOs and Universities poses a real risk of further exacerbating the situation.

Work

The government advice to work from home as much as possible to remain in effect and extended until Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

An exception is being made for dentists and dental hygienists to resume their work. Much to the disappointment of Kappersbranchevereniging (Hairdressing industry association) ANKO and others, there is still no consensus on whether other contact professionals, such as hairdressers, should be allowed to return to work. In the case of dentists and dental hygienists, the OMT considers the risk to be manageable, given that they already use protective gear.

The measures and extension are also taking a toll on all entrepreneurs. Employer organisations are now pushing for a second package of relief measures from the cabinet in support of businesses.

Sports, Entertainment and Events

The government stated that any events which require permits such as but not limited to festivals, fairs, sports competitions with the public – football matches, for instance, are to be cancelled all the way through the summer. These were initially prohibited until June 1, 2020, but the government has extended this measure by three months to September 1, 2020.

Sports activities to resume partially. Children under the age of 12 are allowed to exercise outdoors in groups and children between 12-18 must follow the 1.5-meter distance guidance. For adults, the current measures remain in effect and extended until Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

Measures such as closing cafes, restaurants, amusement parks, museums and zoos will be extended until Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

While some of these measures and extensions provide some clarity for the long run, it is estimated that the extension of these measures will cause damage of at least 1.5 billion euros to the entertainment industry.

*What this means for the current ongoing KNVB Cup? Read more at nu.nl

For more updates on the topic, please visit www.rijksoverheid.nl/coronavirus.

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Frequently asked questions about the impact of the novel coronavirus on education, childcare, employees, employers, entrepreneurs, travellers and public transport can be found on Rijksoverheid.nl.

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