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Avondklok: plans for curfew announced for the Netherlands

Premier Mark Rutte and Minister Hugo de Jonge held a press conference in Den Haag this afternoon and announced the plans for the implementation of an avondklok (curfew) to slow the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, and more specifically, regulations to slow the virus variants which are proving to be highly contagious.


Avondklok

The regulations regarding the avondklok are that residents are prohibited to be outside between 20:30 in the evening and 04:30 in the morning. With the avondklok, the government wants to discourage the reception of visitors and contact moments in groups, and thereby slow down infections. Residents can only go outside when it is necessary.

Exceptions are as follows:

  • In case of an emergency;

  • If you, a person in need of help or an animal urgently needs (medical) assistance;

  • If your employer requires you to go outside for work (which includes delivery employees for home-delivered food and drink);

  • If you travel abroad or return to the Netherlands;

  • If you are travelling in connection with a funeral and can prove this;

  • If you are travelling in connection with a summons by a judge, public prosecutor or objection or appeal hearing and can prove this;

  • If you are walking a leashed dog. You do this on your own.

  • If it is still necessary for you to go out, people must carry an 'Eigen verklaring avondklok' form. If it is necessary for you to go out for work, you must also show an employer's statement. In some cases a form is not necessary. More information (in Dutch) on www.rijksoverheid.nl/avondklok.

A fine of €95 will be issued for those who are found to be outside during the prohibited time period and not able to provide suitable evidence of an exception. Those who show false documentation of the exceptions listed above can face criminal charges.


The Tweede Kamer still has to consider the government's proposal to introduce a curfew. After the Tweede Kamer's approval, more information will be published over the coming days.

The curfew is a heavy measure, but it helps to further slow down the spread of the virus. Research abroad shows that a curfew can lead to a reduction of 8% and 13% of the R-value, according to the Outbreak Management Team (OMT). The curfew will be in effect until at least 04:30 on 10 February.


Additional travel restrictions and flight bans

The urgent advice is: stay in the Netherlands. Do not travel and do not book any trips until 31 March. Only travel abroad for serious family circumstances, for example. Or for work that really cannot be postponed and where physical presence is absolutely necessary.

The government is taking extra measures to prevent the import of new variants of the virus via travellers and to further limit the number of travel movements. The United Kingdom is subject to a flight ban and a ban on docking ferries. The ban will also apply to flights from South Africa, Cape Verde, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. The flight ban is currently in effect for a maximum of one month, or until the planned mandatory quarantine for travellers has been legally regulated.


In addition, all travellers from high-risk areas who come to the Netherlands by plane or ship (and bus/train) must also be able to show a negative rapid test, taken just before their departure to the Netherlands. This is in addition to the already compulsory negative PCR test that must be taken no more than 72 hours before departure. Moreover, they have to spend 10 days in quarantine upon arrival in the Netherlands. After five days, they can be tested. If the result of this PCR test is negative, the quarantine ends. Due to the fact that rapid tests are not available everywhere near (air)ports, the double testing requirement is expected to reduce the number of trips to our country.


An entry ban has been in place for travellers from countries outside the EU since March. The Kabinet has decided to shorten the list of exceptions to this ban. This means that business travellers, students, highly skilled migrants, professionals from the cultural and creative sector and researchers will no longer be allowed to enter the Netherlands. The exception still applies to medical personnel, top athletes, journalists, diplomats and people in long-distance relationships.


These measures will take effect on Saturday 23 January 2021 at 00:01 hours.


Stay at home, work at home and meet as few others as possible

The aim of the lockdown is to have as few contacts as possible. With fewer contacts, there will be fewer infections. Staying at home is the best way to limit contacts. Only go outside for shopping, (medical) care for yourself, others or animals, for a breath of fresh air and for education or work if you really can't do it at home.


Limiting contacts also means not meeting others too often. Keep in touch with others by phone or video call. If you do receive visitors, the government strongly recommends that you do not receive more than one guest per day who is 13 years of age or older. Also, do not visit more than once a day. These measures help to prevent the spread of the virus. Meeting fewer people is tough, for everyone. Therefore, pay extra attention to people around you, especially people who are ill, lonely or have psychological complaints.


In principle, everyone works at home. Only people who are essential to the progress of a business process and who cannot carry out their work at home are allowed to come to work. That means: a bus driver goes to work, an office worker works entirely at home. The current situation is very worrying. Therefore, re-examine existing agreements about coming to work. Coming to the office for social reasons, for meetings or to spend a day away from home is just not on. Employers must ensure that employees who can work from home actually do so. Employees who are asked to come to work when they don't need to can discuss this with their employer.


Quarantine obligation

Anyone who has been in direct contact with someone who has tested positive for corona must go into quarantine. This also applies to people travelling to the Netherlands from a high-risk area. And for people who have complaints and are waiting for their test results. But not everyone abides by the quarantine rules. With the new virus variants, this forms an extra large risk for the spread of the virus. That is why the government is working on a way to make quarantine compulsory. More information about this will follow. As of now, incoming travellers will be registered and randomly checked to see if they are in quarantine.


Funerals

Based on the advice of the OMT, the Kabinet will adjust the rules for the maximum number of persons present at a funeral. As of Monday 25 January 2021, a maximum of 50 persons may be present at a funeral.


Fieldlabs

The Kabinet has also agreed to the organisation of fieldlabs. These are practical tests to gain insight and data on how to reduce the risk of infection at events. Two football matches, a cabaret performance, a business conference and two concerts, among others, will be tested to see what happens when one or more basic measures are abandoned. This will give us an idea of the possibilities for allowing people to visit events safely and responsibly in the future.


The curfew regulations across the Euregio Meuse-Rhine are as follows:


Region Aachen Zweckverband

After intensive discussions with the Landeszentrum Gesundheit Nordrhein-Westfalen – LZG.NRW (NRW Ministry of Health) it was jointly been decided that, considering the additional contact restrictions, there won't be an authoritative Ausgangssperre (curfew) in StädteRegion Aachen just yet, however, again, an urgent plea to the residents has been made.


Dr. Tim Grüttemeier agrees with Aachen Oberbürgermeisterin Sibylle Keupen and the LGZ.NRW, that further developments must be monitored very closely.

"We agree with the state that if the incidence rate continues to rise, we must and we will take action."

states Grüttemeier.


Cities and districts in Region Aachen Zweckverband, which is the part of Nordrhein Westfalen that is included in Euregio Meuse-Rhine, that are currently imposing a Ausgangssperre are Kreis Düren and Kreis Euskirchen.


Wallonie

The Gouvernement de Wallonie announced in a press release on Tuesday 12 January 2021 that the couvre-feu (curfew) currently enforced in Wallonie (22:00-06:00) will remain until 15 February 2021. The couvre-feu which was implemented on 23 October 2020 was originally due to expire on 19 November 2020, and was extended until Friday 15 January 2021.


This couvre-feu then applies across Province de Liège as part of the Euregio Meuse-Rhine except in the case of essential movements which cannot be postponed, such as:

  • having access to medical care;

  • providing assistance and care to the elderly, the elderly, children and other vulnerable persons.

  • minors, people with disabilities and people with disabilities.

  • vulnerable people;

  • carrying out business trips, including commuting to and from work.


Limburg (BE)

In Limburg (BE), the nachtklok (curfew) has been in place between 00:00-05:00 since 19 October 2020. They we initially implemented for a trial period of one month, and have been extended multiple times since. There is a general prohibition to enter public spaces except for essential, non-delayable journeys, such as urgent medical reasons, professional journeys and commuting.

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