In fact, the situation surrounding the coronavirus has “not changed unbelievably much” compared to last week, when the cabinet still shrank from the first relaxation of the measures. “But just enough,” says outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who now dares to take the risk.

That means good news for catering entrepreneurs, who are allowed to put their terraces outside again next Wednesday after months of closure. Guests are only welcome in the afternoons, and under strict conditions. Before, in Rutte's words, “the bitterballen” are on the table, everyone has to be gone.

Shopkeepers also get a little more air. From next week, they may still receive as many customers as now, but they no longer need to make an appointment. If that leads to irresponsibly long queues in the shopping streets, they can, in the worst case, be closed. Markets may also be completely open, provided that a distance of 1,5 meters is kept.

Curfew

The hated curfew comes to an end next week after three months. The urgent advice not to receive more than one visitor at home is extended to a maximum of two guests. “We know that this is the most difficult measure for many people to comply with,” says Rutte. But: “two people is still very little”, he also realizes.

As promised earlier, students in higher education will be allowed to physically attend lectures again from Monday 26 April. In addition, theory exams for the driving license will be possible again, and the maximum number of people present at funerals will be increased from fifty to a hundred.

Balancing act

“We are glad that this is now possible, because society is longing for more space,” says Rutte. “It cannot be done without risks,” he emphasizes. "But the risks must be justified." After all, the pressure on hospitals remains high. "We can afford very few setbacks because healthcare is still all hands on deck and will remain so for the time being."

Rutte speaks of “a balancing act”. According to him, it is also “only more important” to continue to follow the basic rules (keep your distance, wash hands, stay at home and test in case of complaints). He also acknowledges that the cabinet wants to take more risks than RIVM. The health institute only wanted to relax when the number of hospital admissions fell.

Summer vacation

The rest of the relaxation plans will continue to depend on how the situation in the hospitals develops further. And if things still go wrong there, the measures may need to be tightened up again. “If the figures suddenly deteriorate across a broad front, you always have to be prepared to see what is needed,” says Rutte.

All in all, Rutte still assumes that most corona measures will no longer be necessary by the summer holidays, because the vast majority of the population will have been vaccinated by then.

The cabinet will issue a new press conference on decisions that will take effect on 3 May on 11 May. The cabinet will also issue a new travel advice on 3 May that will apply after 15 May.

Read also: Support Halsema's call to open terraces

Hugo de Jonge
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