Home Top Stories The cabinet can still take these measures to reduce the number of...

The cabinet can still take these measures to reduce the number of infections

The cabinet may announce new restrictions now that the number of infections remains high. What measures can the cabinet still take?

The cabinet is faced with a dilemma now that the number of hospital admissions continues to increase. Do you want to intervene further, with all the consequences that entails for the economy and society? Or can you count on the current measures being sufficient to flatten and eventually shrink the second corona wave?

The number of infections did not level off last weekend. On Sunday, the RIVM reported 10,211 new positive tests. This is presumably biased, because fewer new corona cases were reported on Saturday due to a software malfunction, namely 8669. On Saturday, 284 new hospital admissions were reported, on Sunday 191.

During his weekly press conference on Friday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte did not want to anticipate any new restrictions. The latest measures took effect on Thursday last week; that’s why you should be able to see if they work last weekend at the earliest.

On Sunday, Rutte, OMT chairman Jaap van Dissel and a number of ministers met again at the Catshuis. The cabinet will continue talking on Monday, followed by a press conference on Tuesday or later this week. If necessary, the cabinet does not shy away from further interventions, said Rutte. “All scenarios are on the table.” But where can the cabinet intervene? And what do these measures yield?

To see which scenarios are on the table, it is best to use the “roadmap” published by the cabinet two weeks ago. The Netherlands has been at risk level “very serious” for some time now, with far-reaching restrictions. There remains one more severe regime: the lockdown. From healthcare and from some regions, the call for complete locking is becoming louder. A number of potential measures are even stricter than during the “intelligent lockdown” of March and April.

In the home

What can the cabinet do?

The “roadmap” shows very drastic restrictions for the home sphere. In March and April it was still urgent to receive a maximum of three people (excluding family members) at home. That advice also applies now. In a complete lockdown, “stay at home” is the guideline.

Will it work?

As with most corona measures, this stands or falls with people’s will to adhere to them. Southern European countries issued massive fines in the spring to people who were not within a few kilometers of their home. The Netherlands opted much less for coercion. The number of trips shows that the Dutch now find it more difficult to muster the discipline than in March and April. That is why the cabinet is already opting for a stricter tone: not wearing a face mask will soon be fined. Enforcement of the maximum number of guests behind the front door will not happen. This has been removed from the corona law after protests.

Schools

What can the cabinet do?

Closing schools is a horse resource for the cabinet. The social consequences are major. Children will lack education and parents will have to adjust their working days to accompany their children. If the Netherlands goes into lockdown, the cabinet will therefore initially only close the MBO institutions, colleges and universities. Students must then follow online education.

Will it work?

Virological research shows that the corona virus is more difficult to spread through young children and that they hardly get sick. The virus does circulate among students; this was one of the groups in which the corona virus started its march last summer.

The question is whether primary and secondary education will remain open during a lockdown. In March, the cabinet decided to close all schools after social pressure. This pressure will increase as more and more teachers become ill and drop out.

Nursing homes / care

What can the cabinet do?

Closure of nursing homes, such as in the spring, must be prevented at all costs, Minister Hugo de Jonge (healthcare) has said several times in recent months. Only “in the worst case” nursing homes will close for visitors. The measure hit vulnerable residents in the spring. The decision whether a nursing home can remain open therefore rests with the institutions themselves. According to the minister, they can best assess this themselves. The nursing homes say they are better prepared, partly because of lockable corona wards.

Will it work?

In the meantime, there are more protective equipment in healthcare and healthcare personnel are given priority in the test street. However, there are concerns now that the number of infections in nursing homes is rising sharply. Some institutions have already switched to a complete visitor stop.

Sport

What can the cabinet do?

Exercise is important for the immune system and for mental resilience. That is why the government has so far allowed group training with a maximum of four people to continue, and the gyms are still open. But if further interventions are necessary, the cabinet will probably shut down the sport further. Then the gyms will close, and outdoor sports are still allowed with two people, one and a half meters away.

Will it work?

It is unclear how much sport contributes to the spread of the virus, the RIVM writes. But sweating and panting, just like singing and screaming, releases many large droplets, which can contain many virus particles. Moreover, keeping gyms open leads to displacements, which the cabinet wants to avoid. And people aged 20 to 35 exercise a lot, an age group that contributes a lot to the virus spread.

Transport

What can the cabinet do?

The number of “moves” must be reduced. We have been traveling a lot less than a few weeks ago, said Rutte last Friday, but still more than in March and April. The cabinet can choose to allow “only necessary trips”. That is not the case yet. Now the advice “travel as little as possible” applies.

Will it work?

This also depends on people’s willingness to travel less. And to what extent employers allow people to work from home. After all, what is “necessary” for a trip is still a personal estimate. In extreme cases, the cabinet can make people compulsory a letter from the employer or doctor on public transport, as was the case in other countries.

Shops / public space

What can the cabinet do?

Many stores were closed during the spring lockdown. The busier streets are largely because the shops are now open. But the store closure in March and April was not mandatory. Because they could claim support packages from the government, many shops closed voluntarily. In the case of a lockdown, the government’s roadmap does not include a mandatory shop closure. The question is whether retailers – with the holidays approaching – are willing to close their doors again.

Will it work?

The cabinet does not have many resources to get the streets emptied. A curfew was mentioned for a while, but there is a lot of resistance, also within the cabinet. In addition, it is already a lot quieter on the street in the evening, due to the catering closure and the ban on selling drinks after eight hours.

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