Ernst Kuipers arrives for the press conference. Photo: Bart Maat ANP
The Netherlands will remove most of the coronavirus measures currently in place over the next 10 days, as government health experts say the country is now over the Omicron variant peak.
Coronavirus passes for entry to bars, restaurants and cinemas will be scrapped, as will social distancing and the use of face masks in most places, health minister Ernst Kuipers confirmed to reporters on Tuesday evening.
‘In fact, we only have two measures left from February 25,’ Kuipers said. ‘That is testing for entry to indoor events with more than 500 people, and face masks on public transport and planes.’
Kuipers said that despite the high infection rates – currently around 55,000 a day – hospital admissions are fairly stable.
‘Youngsters have to be able to spread their wings, he said. ‘We miss sports, we yearn for culture. Nightlife is also an essential part of a healthy society.’
Kuipers said he is optimistic about the current figures, which show the impact of vaccinations. ‘But we still need to be cautious, and take into account the fact that another variant may arrive in the Netherlands,’ he said.
In addition, he said, it is important to be aware that the changes may have a major impact on people who are in vulnerable health. It is therefore sensible, he said, to continue to keep your distance from others and to wear a mask in crowded places.
The government, Kuipers said, is working on a long-term plan for dealing with coronavirus and other pandemics in the future.
At some point, the government will look at dropping the current testing requirement, as recommended by the government’s Outbreak Management Team, he said. Testing is useful to keep an eye on what the disease is doing, as well as for letting people know if they infected or not.
It is still too early to say when testing could be dropped, he said.
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