The Prime Minister Mark Rutte held a press conference today evening where he announced a limited relaxation of the measures to contain the spread of coronavirus from 28 April. Primary schools will be partially reopened on 11 May.
“It’s a diabolical dilemma”, said the Prime Minister, speaking about the consideration that cabinet had to make, deciding whether or not to relax the ongoing measures.
The situation in the nursing homes are still ‘very worrying’, according to Rutte. Hence, visits to nursing homes will therefore not be permitted.
He indicated that the primary schools will (partially) reopen from May 11. Secondary schools must prepare for opening as from 1 June, following the ‘1.5 metre’ distance protocol. Young children may also resume taking parts in team sports, but formal matches are still not allowed. These present a bigger risk of spreading the virus. The under-18s may also take part in team sport training again, provided they keep to the 1.5 metre rule.
Contact professions, such as hairdressing, massage centres, may not be opened until at least 20 May. Catering establishments, like bars and restaurants must also keep their doors closed. He also announced the cancellation of all large events till September 1, including professional football, which in effect, already ended the Eredivisie’s 2019-2020 season.
‘This is the maximum we can do at the moment,’ Rutte told the reporters. ‘These are difficult considerations but it’s a question of being better safe than sorry,’ Rutte said. ‘We have to be very cautious.’
He was accompanied by Jaap van Dissel, head of public health institute, RIVM. Van Dissel spoke about investigations which show that young children are less likely to pass on the virus or develop serious symptoms themselves.
Prime Minister emphasised that he would have liked to give more freedom back to the citizens, but according to him the risks of the virus flaring up are too big. He called the corona crisis “the biggest, most drastic and threatening event most of us will ever experience”.
All the basic measures shall remain in place and are being extended until 20 May. Until then, that means: stay at home as much as possible, work from home and keep a distance of 1.5 metres when you do go outside, shop alone for groceries, wash your hands as often as you can, cough and sneeze in your elbow.
“These basic rules have brought us to the point where we can now relax other measures. But any relaxation, however small, requires even more patience and discipline from everyone. Stay strong! Do this for yourself and everyone else,’ he said.
Translation: Chaitali Sengupta