The Dutch government announced on Tuesday that the Netherlands will have to be confined for three more weeks than planned, until February 9, and is keeping all non-essential activity and schools closed for fear of the British strain, while promising new financial aid to the sectors most affected.
It was the last country to start vaccination campaigns, on January 6, and one of the few in the world that did not confine its citizens in the first wave, but The Hague is aware of the need to maintain social distance to avoid the expansion of the British strain of the virus, more contagious than previous mutations, and to end the second wave, rampant since late summer in the Netherlands.
“We have no choice but to extend the confinement for another three weeks, until Tuesday, February 9,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced at a press conference in The Hague, in which he spoke of “impotence and frustration” for having to extend the time in which the current restrictions will apply, and not relax them on January 19, as expected.
He acknowledged that confinement is “increasingly difficult to sustain and that is understandable”, because the world has been living with the fear of the coronavirus for ten months, but stressed the need to extend the closure of the Netherlands because the daily infections, which are beginning to decrease slowly, they are still very high.
The Institute of Public Health (RIVM) confirmed today that it sees a decrease in the number of infections reported by the different regions, since they have gone from 56,440 weekly cases announced last Tuesday to a total of 49,398 in the last week.
This represents a reduction of almost 1% in the positive results of the weekly PCR, from 13.7% to the current 12.8% of positives obtained in the total of tests carried out.
Rutte did not consider this reduction to be sufficient and warned that he believes that the curfew could be effective against youth meetings or home visits, so he will “ask for urgent advice” from his advisers, being able to take other “alternative measures ”To avoid social encounters.
HOSPITALITY AND SCHOOLS
The “transfer” signs begin to frequent in the bars and restaurants of the country. Rutte admitted the financial difficulties that many businesses are going through, especially in the hospitality sector, closed since mid-October, or the nightclubs, closed since March, and promised a new package of financial aid for the entrepreneurs most affected by the lockdown.
“The socioeconomic consequences are heartbreaking. We cannot alleviate all the pain for entrepreneurs, but for now, in order for them to continue seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, it is important that we save as many jobs and companies as possible from this crisis, “the prime minister added.
Despite attempts to reopen them as soon as possible, schools and institutes will have to remain closed until at least January 25.
At that time, Primary school children could return to face-to-face classes as normal, but, as a precaution, Secondary students must maintain an interpersonal distance of one and a half meters between them and with the teachers, a measure that the Government had not wanted demand of them until now.
The Outbreak Management Team (OMT), which advises the Executive on this pandemic, insisted on the need for students to maintain social distance because the perception that they play a limited role in the transmission of the coronavirus is “a mistake.”
VACCINATION AND THE NEW STRAIN
The Minister of Health, Hugo de Jonge, also warned of the dangers of the British strain, which is “much more contagious” and “can worsen the situation much faster, something that must be avoided at all costs”, although he acknowledged that still Not much is known about how this coronavirus mutation works.
Rutte assured that on February 2 it will be communicated if the confinement is lifted within the expected period or if the closure will have to be extended, because he recalled that the British variant “is a new problem and we do not know how it will develop” in the coming weeks.
“Our goal is to vaccinate all vulnerable people before the beginning of spring,” said De Jonge, who confirmed that next week it will be the turn of nursing homes and in mid-February, those over 60 will be able to be vaccinated. live at home, so that they all had the injection before summer
In addition, the Government maintains its recommendation not to travel outside the Netherlands until March and Rutte insisted that the official advice is to “stay at home” and only go out or make trips of an urgent family nature or important economic interest.
Rutte also guaranteed that “there is no reason to cancel the general elections” scheduled for March 17, in which he is running for re-election, and assured that all kinds of measures are being taken so that the vote can be carried out with guarantees. .