As the number of new positive cases per day declines in the Netherlands, new virus variants are gaining ground — causing concerns about a new wave of infections.
The number of new positive cases per day is declining and the pressure on hospitals is gradually easing. But new variants of the virus are gaining ground quickly in the Netherlands. This is cause for concern because these new variants are more infectious and can cause a new wave of infections. We must prevent this as much as possible, so that hospitals will continue to be able to treat both COVID-19 and other patients in the months ahead. The government has therefore decided to extend the current lockdown. Primary schools and childcare centres will however reopen as of 8 February. And shops will be allowed to offer customers the option of collecting goods that they have ordered in advance, at pre-agreed times.
Schools and childcare
As of Monday 8 February primary schools, special primary schools and childcare centres will reopen fully. It is vital that schools, childcare centres and parents do everything possible to limit the number of contacts as much as possible. Childcare staff will soon be eligible for priority testing. School staff already have priority for coronavirus testing and this will continue. A trial involving rapid testing for primary school teachers will start soon. In the very short term the education and social affairs & employment ministries will issue additional guidelines aimed at minimising the risk of infection at primary schools and childcare centres. Centres for out-of-school care (BSO) must stay closed, as this could lead to extra contacts and positive cases.
Secondary schools will remain closed until at least 1 March – after the February school holidays. They will remain open for some groups, including pupils in the upper years of secondary school sitting exams this year and vulnerable pupils. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has drafted new guidelines aimed at minimising the risk of infection, so that these schools will be able to reopen safely in the near future. To see how the guidelines work in practice for a whole school, some secondary schools will allow more pupils to come to school as of next week. Schools taking part in the rapid testing trial can also participate in this pilot.
Click and collect
Non-essential shops will remain closed for the time being. However the government wants to make the lockdown a little more bearable for retailers and consumers. As of 10 February, non-essential shops will be allowed to offer their customers the option of collecting their order in person. Customers should order their goods (online or by phone) at least 4 hours in advance and make an appointment to collect them in or outside the shop. The basic rules apply at all times: stay 1.5 metres apart, follow the basic hygiene measures and stay home if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
The curfew will remain in force until 4:30 on 10 February. The government has again asked the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) for advice on the current situation concerning coronavirus and the package of measures. Based on that advice the government will review the situation early next week.
The roadmap of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus has been updated. The government will use this updated roadmap in the future, when deciding to either ease or tighten measures. The idea behind the roadmap is to make it clear what measures are needed if infections, pressure on the healthcare system and hospital admissions increase, as well as which measures might be relaxed if the situation changes for the better. Whatever the case, it is vital that any easing of measures is done gradually and with due care. On the other hand, new measures must be introduced quickly. The roadmap will be regularly updated to reflect the latest knowledge on the virus and the impact of measures.
Stay at home, work from home and keep contact with others to a minimum
The aim of the lockdown is to prevent people from coming into contact with each other wherever possible. Less contact means fewer infections. So stay at home as much as possible. Only go outside to shop for essentials, to get medical care for yourself or to care for others or animals, to get some fresh air or to go to work or school if working or learning remotely is not possible. Keep in touch via telephone or video calls instead. If you do decide to receive visitors, the government’s strict advice is to have no more than one visitor per day, not including children under 13. You should not visit more than one other household per day either.
In principle everyone should work from home all the time. Only people whose physical presence is essential to operational processes and who cannot do their work from home can go to their workplace. So, for example, a bus driver can go to work, but an office worker should work entirely from home. The current situation in the Netherlands is very serious. So employers and staff should review their existing agreements about coming into work. At the moment, people should not be going to work to meet with colleagues or clients. Employers must ensure that any employee who can work from home does so. Employees who are asked to come into work even though their physical presence is not essential should raise this with their employer.
These measures will help prevent the spread of the virus. Of course, seeing fewer people is hard on everyone. So look out for any people around you who might need extra attention, especially those who are ill, lonely or struggling with mental health issues.
Measures up to at least 2 March inclusive
Read below about the measures that will be in place from now until at least 2 March 2021 inclusive:
- Receive no more than 1 person aged 13 or over at your home per day.
- Visit no more than 1 other household per day.
- Work from home. Only people whose physical presence is essential to operational processes and who cannot do their work from home can go to work.
- Only go outside with members of your household, on your own or with 1 other person.
- A curfew applies across the Netherlands from 21:00 to 04.30.
- Funerals may be attended by no more than 50 people.
- Most locations are closed, including:
- shops (except those selling essentials like foods – from 10 February shops can offer a ‘click and collect service’)
- locations where contact-based professions are carried out, such as hairdressers, nail salons and sex establishments
- theatres, concert halls, cinemas, casinos, etc.
- zoos, amusement parks, etc.
- indoor sports venues such as gyms, swimming pools, saunas, spas, etc.
- restaurants, bars and cafes.
- Educational institutions are mainly offering remote and online learning. Daycare and out-of-school care centres will remain closed during this period.
- Primary schools and childcare centres for children aged 0 to 4 will reopen from 8 February.
- Out-of-school care centres will remain closed.
- Secondary schools can offer practical training, school exams for pupils in the upper years and lessons for pupils with upcoming final exams on site.
- Secondary vocational schools (MBO), higher professional education institutions (HBO) and universities can offer exams and practical training on site.
- All educational institutions can make exceptions to provide support to vulnerable pupils or students.
- For children whose parents work in critical sectors, emergency childcare is available at their primary school, daycare centre and/or out-of-school care centre. Parents are urged to use emergency childcare only if they have no other option.
- Only medical professionals and allied health professionals may carry out work that involves close contact with clients or patients.
- Hotels are open, but hotel restaurants will remain closed and room service will be unavailable.
- Adults may take part in sports activities on their own or with one other person, but only outdoors. Children aged 17 and under may take part in team sports and play matches against children at the same club, but only outdoors.
- Use public transport for essential travel only.
- Stay in the Netherlands. Do not travel abroad and do not book trips abroad until 31 March inclusive. Travel restrictions apply.