Face masks are back, no more working from home, as Dutch reinstate anti-Covid rules

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Mark Rutte and Hugo de Jonge present the new measures. Photo: Phil Nijhuis ANP

The Netherlands is putting new measures in place to control the coronavirus in a bid to reverse the sharp rise in new cases, and stricter rules are also in the works if there is no improvement.

The new plans were presented by ministers at a press conference on Tuesday evening, shortly after authorities raised the risk level to “serious” now as the average number of hospital admissions per day is greater than 100.

Although social distancing is not mandatory, it is the government’s “urgent advice”, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at a press conference on Tuesday evening.

People are also urged to spend at least half of their work week from home and avoid rush hour commutes. Some 12% of new coronavirus cases can be attributed to work.

From November 6, a valid coronavirus pass will be required on café terraces, in museums and at amateur sporting events for those over 18, but Sinterklaas processions will be exempt, Rutte said.

Face masks will also be mandatory again in all public buildings and shops, as well as at train stations and airports. Students will also be required to wear masks when traveling between classes, and they will also be brought back for people in contact occupations like hairdressers, but not for sex workers.

Masks will not be required in locations where coronavirus passes are required.

Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said the RIVM public health institute expects the number of coronavirus patients in IC wards to double the current total by mid-December.

“We cannot allow the number of Covid patients to increase too much,” he said. “The more hands there are treating Covid patients, the fewer other types of care there are,” he said. “Most of the patients are not vaccinated and they didn’t need to be there if they had been. And it’s the others who will have to wait, say, for a new hip.

The next step

While the new measures do not have an immediate impact, the government will also continue plans to allow employers to require staff to show they have a valid coronavirus pass and to introduce the code system. QR in non-essential stores and other locations.

The system could also be introduced more widely in specific villages and areas where there are high numbers of infections and low vaccination rates.

The decision whether or not to introduce stricter rules will be taken before November 12, the date of a new press conference.

Hospitals

“We’re going to look at the evolution of the hospital… and that means people who have already been infected,” Rutte said. “We’re also going to look at specific data, how many people use the roads, what’s in the sewage, and so on. If we stick to the new recommendations, everything will be fine.

De Jonge also made a direct camera appeal to people who have not been vaccinated and urged them to rethink. “Ask your questions, you are always welcome to ask them,” he said. “Think about it, do it for yourself, for your neighbor, for your grandmother. “

The government does not plan to put in place specific measures for people who have not yet been vaccinated and, Rutte said, they are free to participate in society if they get tested.

‘Say you can’t come in [because you are not vaccinated] is not in our plans, but you cannot rule it out in the future, ”said Rutte.

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