Rutte doesn’t rule out even stricter anti-COVID-19 rules for Xmas

"If things don't improve, we might have to tighten the rules even more," was Rutte main message at tonight's press conference.

As things stand, you can only have three guests at Christmas dinner this year.

“If this upward trend continues, we might have to clamp down even more,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at tonight’s press conference. “The [anti-corona] measures won’t be eased any time soon.”

“Things don’t look good,” he said after the Dutch Health Department (RIVM) reported a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases last week. On average, 24 people are still being admitted to intensive care every day. He urged people to stick to the rules.

‘Don’t pass in on’

“As much as we like to do more, the virus won’t allow us.” So, the partial lockdown continues. The Dutch Minister of Health, Hugo de Jonge, added, “We mustn’t pass along the virus as a gift.” Whether additional measures are needed before Christmas will be announced on 22 December.

It’s also vital to plan well-ahead for the festive season. “Shop in the morning or during the week and go alone,” reads the government’s website. And since the hospitality industry remains closed, you can “get a takeaway from your favourite restaurant,” says Rutte.

“It’s been a difficult year for many people. A year of loss and mourning. The number of COVID-19-related deaths is approaching 10,000 in the Netherlands. “We now have almost 10,000 empty chairs at the Christmas table because of COVID-19.”

During December, in particular, it’s important to take more heed of each other,” Minister de Jonge said. The Aandacht voor elkaar (Attention to each other) campaign is, therefore, all about collecting ideas from all over the Netherlands. These stories are shared. They could inspire other to do that little bit extra for each other.

Still closed

Rutte didn’t have any news for the hospitality industry as yet. For them to open again, the number of ICU cases first has to drop significantly. “Then, restaurants would open first. Bars are a different story.”

“There, people tend to stand much closer together.” But before this even begin to happen, there will be strict test runs in the cultural and sports sectors in January. “These trials will show what’s needed to allow these kinds of events to happen,” said Prime Minister.

“We’re at the eve of a new phase in the crisis, the vaccination phase,” said De Jonge. “We’re doing everything we can to start vaccinating in January, which is fantastic. Hats off to the scientific community.”

Minister De Jonge explained that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines would probably be delivered a little later than initially anticipated. There will also be much less of it. According to him, one million doses was to have been received by the end of the year.


That’s now expected to be half that number and in the beginning of January. A further 1.7 million doses will follow in the first quarter of 2021.

Health care workers and those working in nursing homes will be the first to be offered the vaccine. This group will be vaccinated at some vaccination sites. These will be set up by the various Municipal Health Service centres across the country.

The Ministry also wants to start vaccinating the elderly and intellectually challenged as well. They will be offered the Moderna vaccine. According to the latest reports, the Netherlands will receive 390,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine in the first quarter of 2021.

When asked whether the vaccinations will start on 4 January, as De Jonge had previously announced, he said it would be “as early in January as possible.”

Sources: OmroepBrabant, NOS, and the Rijksoverheid

Translator: Melinda Walraven

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