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Update 17-11

Heeeello everybody,
Today is the first birthday of the Covid-19 disease as the first patient was diagnosed with Covid on November 17th 2019 in China.
We also had a press converance by Mark Rutte and Hugo de Jonge, so heere’s an update for you based on that:

We can now finally say the reproduction rate R is clearly below 1. That’s good. Infection rates are still decreasing, but are still quite high. Same goes for hospital admissions and intensive care units. Around 100.000 people in society are currently contageous.

Now the main things that have been announced:

  • As of December 1st, facemasks in indoor public spaces are mandatory. Not wearing these may result in a €95 fine. This applies for all indoor public spaces: libraries, supermarkets, shops, stores, etcetera. Outdoor, walking through the city, there is no requirement for face masks.
  • Wednesday at midnight, the additional measures of two weeks ago expire. We will then (as of Thursday morning effectively) go back to the rules of October 13. I’ll post those below in a bit. Restaurants and bars will remain closed, the ban on alcohol outdoors after 20h and the negative travel recommendation for all destinations will remain.
  • As of December 1st, some procedures regarding self-quarantining will change. If the contact tracing app (downloadable via coronamelder.nl) marks you as a potential risk (having been in touch with a positive case), you will have to self-isolate for five days. After 5 days, you can get tested. If then your test is negative, you won’t have to self-isolate anymore.
    As of mid-January, a similar policy will most likely apply to incoming travellers. Until then, there’s the 10 days requirement for all countries on the list (dutchcovidnews.nl/travel). This is not sure yet, but an estimate based on how test capacity currently is.
  • In general, testing capacity will keep increasing. More and more accurate tests, combined with the first vaccines do provide some perspectives towards a future with some more possibilities. Testing capacity in regions differs. As consequence of this, testing might get more widely available in certain areas. This is – for now – on schedule for January, but no promises there.

Some more general remarks on the month of December and celebrations coming up:

  • Sinterklaas cannot be celebrated as usual – Don’t do big family- or friends gatherings, please! Don’t go shopping out for presents with a bunch of people; either shop online or shop alone.
  • Christmas really is too far away to tell anything concrete about.
  • Fireworks will be banned on New Year’s for this year only. Fines will be €100.

What’s next? That is still being figured out, between the national Govt, municipalities, sports associations, and other stakeholders.

  • Estimates are the infection rate and danger will be down to the lowest level (waakzaam) sometime mid-January. Until then, it is likely quite strict measures will be in place. If we keep up the good work we currently do, the prospects for more relaxed measures in mid-December are quite hopeful – if so those things will most likely be announced on December 8th. That could include some more possibilites for Christmas. However, don’t get our hopes up just yet: “We shouldn’t give ourselves a third wave of Covid for Christmas this year” – Hugo de Jonge, Minister of Health.
  • On vaccinations: Don’t get your hopes up just yet. Even though the Dutch govt has deals with 6 different vaccine developers, it will still take a while until A. until the vaccines are approved by health authorities and B. until the vaccines are available in the first place.
    Perhaps the first people could be vaccinated some time in January or February, but that would only be the first batch of people. A lot of preparations are currently being done on getting vaccines out to as many people as efficiently as possible, but it’s a complex puzzle.
    Until everybody (who wants to) is vaccinated, there will be some things we’ll have to adapt to. Things like getting tested and staying indoors when feeling a little under the weather.
    More generally, there are some concerns about the willingness to get vaccinated. Concerns regarding the vaccine are understandable, but procedures regarding testing the vaccine are not shorthanded or shortcut, but rather sped up. Vaccines will not be mandatory, but will be strongly encouraged. The goal is to achieve herd immunity, expected to be achieved if around 70% gets vaccinated.
    Vaccines will not lead to explicit more entitlements or anything for vaccinated people, but specific situations might lead to tailor-made measures. This will only be determined when this becomes an actual situation, still quite far from now.

As always, I hope this clarifies the current situation in the Netherlands, and as always do feel free to ask if anything is unclear.