NL extends lockdown, reopens primary schools and implements "afhalen" in retail
Premier Mark Rutte and Minister Hugo de Jonge gave a press conference in Den Haag this evening addressing the concerns of an extended lockdown on personal, social, educational and economic situations regarding the COVID-19 and more specifically the B117 variant of the coronavirus in the Netherlands.
"The number of infections per day is decreasing and the hospitals are also slowly becoming less overrun with coronavirus patients. However, new variants of the coronavirus are rapidly gaining ground in the Netherlands. This is worrying, because these variants are more contagious and can lead to a new wave of infections. We have to prevent new infections as much as possible now, so that the hospitals keep space for coronavirus patients and regular care in the coming months. Therefore, the Kabinet has decided to continue the current lockdown. However, primary schools and childcare facilities will reopen as of 8 February. In addition, consumers will be able to collect pre-placed orders from shops at pre-arranged times.
Schools and childcare
From Monday 8 February onwards, primary schools, childcare centres and special (primary) education centres will be fully open again. It is essential that schools, childcare centres and parents make every effort to limit the number of contacts as much as possible. Childcare workers can be tested as a matter of priority in the short term. This was already the case, and will remain so, for employees in education. In the short term, a trial will be started with rapid tests for primary school teachers. The Ministries of Education, Culture and Science and of Social Affairs and Employment will very shortly be issuing additional guidelines to further reduce the risk of infection spreading at primary schools and childcare facilities. Buitenschoolse opvang – BSO (out of school care) will remain closed, as this could lead to extra contact moments and infections.
Secondary schools remain closed until at least 1 March, i.e. after the spring holidays. The school remains open for, among others, exam students and students in a vulnerable position. The RIVM has drawn up new guidelines to further reduce the spread risks, so that schools will be able to reopen responsibly soon. To see what this means for an entire school, more pupils will be allowed to attend school in some schools from next week onwards. Schools that are already participating in the trial with quick tests can also participate.
Ordering and collecting
Non-essential shops will remain closed for the time being. Nevertheless, the Kabinet wants to meet consumers and entrepreneurs with a small adjustment to make the lockdown a little more bearable. Therefore, as of 10 February, the Kabinet will allow ordering and collecting from non-essential shops. Customers will be able to order their products (online or by telephone) at least four hours in advance and collect them from the shop by appointment. Of course, the basic rules such as maintaining 1.5 metres distance, hygiene measures and staying at home in case of symptoms still apply.
The avondklok is in force until 10 February at 04:30. The Kabinet has asked the OMT for advice on the current situation of the coronavirus and the package of regulations. Based on that advice, the Kabinet wants to take stock again at the beginning of next week.
The roadmap with coronavirus measures has been updated. The Kabinet will use this updated roadmap in its future decisions on relaxing or tightening measures. With the roadmap, the Kabinet wants to make clear which measures are necessary if infections and pressure on healthcare increase, and hospital admissions rise, and which measures we can think of if relaxation is in sight. It is important that the relaxation of measures should be gradual and cautious, while the introduction of new measures should be rapid. The contents of the roadmap will need to be regularly updated in line with the latest knowledge about the virus and the impact of measures.
The aim of the lockdown is to have as few contact moments as possible. The fewer contact moments, the fewer infections. So stay at home as much as possible and only go out for grocery shopping, (medical) care for yourself, others or animals, a breath of fresh air and education or work if you really can't do it at home. 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. Do not visit more than once a day.
In principle, everyone should be working from 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 go to work. That means: a bus driver goes to work, an office worker works entirely at home. The current situation in the Netherlands is very worrying. Therefore, re-examine existing agreements about coming to work. Coming to work to see colleagues or clients is not an option at the moment. 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.
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 those who are ill, lonely or have psychological complaints.
Regulations in place until at least 2 March 2021:
Do not receive more than 1 guest of 13 years or older per day at home.
Visit no more than once a day.
Work 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 go to work.
Only go outdoors with members of your household or with a group consisting of no more than 2 people.
Throughout the Netherlands there is an avondklok in force from 21:00 to 04:30.
A maximum of 50 people are allowed to attend a funeral.
Most locations are closed:
Shops (except for essential items such as food. Ordering and collecting from shops will be possible as of 10 February).
Locations of contact professions such as hairdressers, nail studios, sex establishments.
Theatres, concert halls, cinemas, casinos, etc.
Animal parks, amusement parks, etc.
Indoor sports facilities such as gyms, swimming pools, saunas, wellness, etc.
Restaurants and cafes.
Educational institutions mainly offer online education at least until 2 March. Buitenschoolse opvang – BSO facilities will be closed during this period.
From 8 February onwards, primary schools and childcare facilities will be fully open again.
In secondary education, practical education, lessons for exam pupils and the administration of school examinations in the (pre-)examination year can take place on location.
In tertiary education MBO, HBO and WO examinations and exams can be taken on location and practical education is possible.
In all forms of education, an exception may be made for the guidance of vulnerable pupils and students.
For children of parents who have a crucial profession, there is emergency accommodation at the primary school or childcare and after-school care. The request is to make use of emergency care only if no other solution is possible.
Only (para)medical contact professions are allowed.
Hotels are open, but restaurants and room service in hotels are closed.
Adults exercise alone or in pairs, and only outside. Children up to 17 years old may play sports in teams and may play matches among themselves, but only outdoors.
Only use public transport for strictly necessary journeys.
Stay in the Netherlands. Do not travel abroad and do not book foreign trips until March. Travel restrictions apply."
Further information on testing within primary schools and "afhalen" will be published as soon as possible in separate articles.