(Updated with Curfew information on 22-01)
A mid-day press conference shows some of the urgency of what is going to be announced. So, here we go.
To prevent a third wave of Covid, we have to act now. Even though we are all Covid-tired and absolutely done with the virus, the virus is not done with us. It is difficult for everyone, and the entire thing takes a big mental toll on all of us.
So, how do we move forward at this point?
Infections in the Netherlands are decreasing, but additional measures are now announced. Why is this?
There is a real risk of a third wave coming. This is, in large, due to the more contagious ‘British’ strain of Covid. ‘Old’ Covid is on its return, with R below 1. That means the number of infections is decreasing, and that’s a good thing.
The ‘British’ strain however currently has a reproduction rate R of 1,3. Currently, it is estimated that around 10% of the total infections in the Netherlands are this strain. It is expected this will go up to 50% of all infections in February and even 90 to 100% of all Covid cases in March. This ‘British’ strain of Covid is growing exponentially, and as it is more contagious it will eventually be the dominant cause of infections. The same applies to the ‘South-African’ and ‘Brazilian’ strains of Covid. Even though these strains are not more dangerous and won’t get people more sick, they will get more people sick.
In order to minimise pressure on the healthcare system and to try to prevent a third wave, or otherwise at least to be ready for one, new measures will take effect.
Split out into three categories: Curfew, not-travel, and travel:
(Updated on 21-01)
First of all the most discussed measure. The curfew. After a long debate in parliament, a majority of seats did agree with a curfew, effective between 21.00h and 04.30h (9pm-4.30am). This will go into effect as of this Saturday (January 23rd).
This curfew means that after 21.00h:
- It is forbidden to be outside on public roads
- This applies to everyone, everywhere.
- It will be enforced by police and municipal agents (so-called boa’s)
There are some exceptions:
- Walking your dog is still possible, as long as it is on a leash. You’re expected not to loan out your dog to others but to just behave responsibly. Give the dog and yourself a good night of sleep.
- If you have to work. For this, you need a form filled out by your employer.
- If you have an exam on location in the evening. For this, some sort of form will become available.
- If you are a provider of informal care (‘mantelzorg’ in Dutch) for someone. For this, you will also need a form.
- If you are on public transport on your way to an airport/leaving the country, or coming in from abroad. Again, form required.
- For sudden urgent care or urgent circumstances, additional provisions apply. If for some reason you’re in need of an ambulance, first aid help, or a fire has struck your home, getting help and standing outside of course remains possible.
This curfew also means that food pickups, supermarkets, and other places that still are open will close down before 21.00h (9pm). No exceptions.
Food deliveries are however still possible, but only if the deliverer has a work declaration from their employer.
Some general concerns you may have:
- If you’re still on the street like one minute after curfew, there’s a few minutes grace period. Don’t live on the edge in this regard though, as not everyone might be as lenient in this.
- If you are on the street without a form, you can be fined, but this will not be registered as criminal offence.
- If you falsify the employers declaration, this will be regarded as forgery, and will see consequences as such. That means a criminal offence, and potentially high fines or even (if large-scale fraud) prison time.
Not having such a form on you may result in a €95 fine. Falsifying either form is a criminal offence, and will be fined higher and go on your criminal record.
More detailed information is available on the curfew page.
Effective immediately, you are only supposed to have one visitor per day over. Reversely, you also should not visit more than one location/household per day.
As of Monday the 25th, funerals are limited to 50 attendees.
All of these measures apply until February 9th.
All travel matters will soon be updated at dutchcovidnews.nl/travel-faq. If you cannot find the information there, please feel free to get in touch with me!
As of this Saturday, there is a flight ban for travelers coming in from South Africa, the United Kingdom, and all South American countries. The only exceptions to this rule are incoming freight, necessary medical travels, and returning Dutch citizens stuck in one of these countries due to Covid restrictions but wanting to go home.
Travelers from outside the EU without EU citizenship
In the formal recommendation that was passed from the Outbreak Management Team to the Cabinet, it states that entry to the Netherlands for “students (temporary studies), knowledge-migrants (temporary stay), business travelers, professionals in the cultural and creative sector, and people under the provision of long term long distance relations” will no longer be possible.
It does not specifically say anything about students or workers who have a residency permit to the Netherlands. If you’re here for a full bachelor’s or master’s programme, however, you are regarded as a temporary migrant, according to IND rules. If you work in the Netherlands on a non-temporary employment contract and have a residence permit, this would mean it is still possible to enter the Netherlands. This won’t apply to most student jobs.
Again, it is not yet entirely clear whether this applies to international students with a residence permit, but it sure looks like it does, unfortunately.
Additionally, it seems as if KLM will cancel (virtually) all long-distance flights as of Saturday. If you have a KLM flight scheduled next week, they will probably get in touch with you soon – but they’re also figuring things out on the go.
The Netherlands now sees the strictest travel restrictions of the entire EU. That means that while direct flights to the Netherlands are perhaps no longer possible, you can still make it to the Netherlands, just via other countries. Make sure to get a rapid test before boarding an aircraft headed to the Netherlands. More on that below.
Further travel restrictions
When flying in from EU and Schengen countries, the Netherlands now requires two negative Covid tests. In addition to the already required negative PCR test, a negative (antigen) rapid test of a maximum of four hours old will also be necessary to board airplanes headed for the Netherlands. The double test will be mandatory as of midnight between Friday and Saturday. Obtaining either test result is a responsibility for the traveler themselves. Businesstraveller.com has a (non-exhaustive) list of airports that offer rapid tests on the airport.
Ferries from the UK to the Netherlands are all canceled as of Saturday.
International trains and buses still have the PCR requirement. This applies to IC Berlin, ICE Frankfurt/Basel, Thalys, Eurostar, IC Brussel and Flixbus, not on local trains and busses. At this moment, there is no need for an additional rapid test – but this might change.
Cross-border travel by car is still possible and faces no restrictions at this moment. That might however also change.
Upon arrival in the Netherlands
Some personal information will be registered when traveling to the Netherlands. The mandatory ten days of quarantine upon arrival are still required, but will now be checked. Violating your quarantine will result in a €95 fine.
After five days of quarantine, one will be able to get tested. If this test is negative, you will no longer have to quarantine anymore. Details on this policy will also follow later.
Travel restrictions apply to all countries, except the explicitly mentioned safe countries.
Somewhat more positive matters
Now back to somewhat more positive matters.
Over the next few weeks, testing capacity will again increase and large-scale testing will start, also for people not having symptoms. This includes some small-scale ‘field labs’, aimed at researching how to re-open physical education, as well as venues such as theatres and football stadiums for audiences. Hopefully, we will see the first of such tests sometime in mid-February.
For the longer term, the only way out is vaccination. The Netherlands currently has over 100.000 people vaccinated, virtually all of them long-term healthcare workers. The elderly and others living in long-term health care institutions are now also being vaccinated. The more vulnerable people are vaccinated, the lower pressure on the general and urgent healthcare becomes.
All vaccines that are currently stored in depots are scheduled to be put in someone’s arm already. To speed up vaccination, the second shot will now come in the fifth or sixth week after the initial shot. This increases capacity now and over time more vaccines will become available making this possible. Additionally, more efficient needles have made it possible to get six shots out of one flacon of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine rather than the five shots originally intended. This increases the number of people that can be vaccinated.
Currently, the expectation is that by spring, so mid-march, all vulnerable people in healthcare institutions, plus most elderly living at home will be vaccinated. This should make things possible for everyone else. Don’t expect all measures to suddenly go. At least until summer, there will be restrictions. But based on decreased pressure on hospitals and increased vaccination for vulnerable, more things will become possible over time.
The current lockdown, and the curfew we’re facing are tough on people and we do get lonely. Don’t forget to get in touch with others, call, video call, or help each other. Things that might be effortless for you may mean a lot to others. Do all this with the Covid measures in mind though!
Most people stick to all measures, but I want to urge you to critically reflect on your own behavior for a bit. I’m no saint in that either, but I do truly limit my social interactions with people. I really genuinely hope you do too, however hard that may be.
That is all for now. As always, if there’s any questions you know where to find me!