So here’s an update based on the press conference of tonight and some additional info.
The foresights are not good. Aside from the 10.000 Covid deaths since February, the infection rates of the past week-or-two have not decreased, but rather increased. The same applies for hospitalisation rates and ICU-admittance. With an average of 6000+ new confirmed cases and 20+ ICU-admittances, it is not possible to relax measures over Christmas and New Years, on the contrary even: if Covid-cases keep developing like this, it is possible stricter measures will be announced before Christmas. Around 88.000 people in the Netherlands now are estimated to be contagious, and not all of those people stay at home. That is a serious health risk, so please, pretty please, stay at home if you feel (even a little) sick.
Again, measures will not be relaxed for Christmas. That means we will have to stick to the following main rules:
- Maximum 3 guests visiting per day
- Restaurants will remain closed
- If you’re visiting or have visitors over, keep 1,5m distance from the other household
- If you feel even a little under the weather, don’t go/don’t have visitors over.
Unsurprisingly, the same main points were repeated tonight once again:
- Wash your hands
- Stay home and get tested if you feel sick
- Housemates and close contacts should stay at home too
- Get friends to go shopping for you
- Work from home
- Limit live social interactions (digital is fine of course)
- Only go shopping if its necessary
- Shop alone
Essentially, the foresights at this point are the same as four weeks ago; if the cases decrease again, we might see some more things possible mid-January. The currently applicable measures do also still apply. Catch up on those at the homepage.
Is there no positive news at all?
Well, there’s one small thing. January will see trial runs with reopening cultural places and possibly some more opportunities for sports to resume. These will be highly local and rather strict tests, such as theaters allowing some more audience. Everything will be closely monitored, and the focus will most likely be on walking routes, rapid tests upon entry, and other similar small things. A lot is still unclear regarding this.
The worries regarding youth can no longer be ignored. That is why more money will be made available for ‘youth projects’. It is however rather unclear what these will look like and who will be targeted as being ‘youth’. Teamsports for youth between 18 and 27 will most likely be resumed mid-January, so that is something to look forward to.
If you worry about your favourite club, bar or restaurant, you are not the only one. Even the Dutch Cabinet has now agreed to a new economic relief package fro the hospitality sector. More on that will be announced tomorrow morning. I will most likely not update you on that, as it is a rather specific economic press conference. If you have specific questions regarding this however, feel free to ask me!
Then there is some more info about vaccinations. The previous estimate of January 4th might have been too optimistic. New vaccine availability numbers show that the initial round of vaccinations will be smaller, but the general line still stands (first healthcare workers, people living in healthcare institutions, then 60- with health risks). As soon as the first real round of vaccinations has been, there is a little bit of optimism to relax some of the measures, as the weakest of society would at that point be protected. This could however very well take until March 2021.
Now, I want to finish this list of bad news with some rumours you may have heard of.
Some of the biggest names in hospitality in the country have announced they will reopen their restaurants, cafes and bars on January 17th, regardless of the measures that would apply at that point. It is, at this point, not clear to what extent this is a threat or a promise. Within the hospitality sector there is quite a lot of discussion regarding this, as it would obviously go against governmental guidelines. I really do not know whether this will happen. If it does happen however, it might have significant consequences for infection rates and subsequently measures. It is impossible to say anything concrete about whether the sector will actually open. As soon as more information becomes available, I will let you know.
Secondly, an internal memo from the Ministry of Economic Affairs leaked to the Dutch press. In this memo, it was suggested that re-opening the hospitality sector would not lead to an increase in cases, and could even lead to a decrease in cases. This sparked a debate in parliament (currently in session), but the Cabinet has clearly underlined they do not support this memo. It seems to be merely an economic perspective at this point. Perhaps more news regarding this will come out at some point this week however.
With all the bad news, this update is quite an extensive one. Both Mark Rutte and I feel rather sad not to be able to give you any more positive news, but him and I want to urge you strongly to stick to the Covid measures, to behave responsibly and to take care of eachother. Help your friends out, but keep a safe distance from them. Stay strong, and if there’s any questions, you know where to find me.
PS. Quite a few questions keep coming in about travel. This website will see an extensive update on travel guidelines, restrictions, requirements and PCR-tests tomorrow.