With a series of national measures, the government is taking back control of the regions in the fight against the corona virus. The regional approach that Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister Hugo de Jonge (Public Health) previously rolled out has scaled down. “We are now continuing with national measures to get out of the virus again.” The opposition does not think it is enough. According to the parties, the mouth masks advice for Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague is unclear.
“The number of infections is rising so quickly that we are threatening to chase the virus with a map that is increasingly red,” said the prime minister on Monday.
Due to the increasing number of new infections and overflowing hospitals, the cabinet is forced to take tougher action.
Before the weekend, Rutte said he still had confidence in an approach in which the regions themselves take measures to contain the virus, but he now sees that this is not enough. “That has been a matter of progressive insight,” said the prime minister.
The new rules as of 6 p.m. Tuesday evening
- Working from home is becoming the norm
- At home up to 3 guests over 12 years old
- Meet with a maximum of 4 people in the catering industry or cinema
- Maximum 30 people inside, 40 people outside
- Cafés and restaurants must close at 10 p.m.
- Sports canteens closed, sports without an audience
Cabinet is breaking down regional approach
In doing so, the cabinet is putting the regional approach announced at the beginning of September on hold for three weeks. Dutch regions should suppress the virus with a set of measures on the basis of three levels (vigilant, worrisome and serious).
But in recent weeks, this approach proved to be insufficient. There is still no clarity about the local package of measures. “A few weeks ago we decided to switch to this regional approach,” said De Jonge. “We are working on the development of this.” The approach had to ensure a clear and predictable policy, and exactly that was missing in recent weeks.
The corona dashboard with signal values would provide a timely warning and the corona app would help detect infections and support the GGDs in the source and contact investigation. That too is not going as the cabinet had hoped. Rutte: “Testing and source and contact investigations are not yet perfect.”
The combination of the number of new infections and the higher reproduction rate means that the Netherlands is now in the dreaded second wave earlier than expected. With the new national measures, the cabinet hopes to break the wave in the next three weeks, so that a second lockdown can be prevented.
Criticism of mouth masks advice: ‘Clarify!’
A national duty to mask masks is not part of the new package of measures. In the hot spots of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, it is recommended to wear a mouth mask in shops. Where the prime minister said in previous months that face masks would provide a false sense of security, he now sees that they can contribute somewhat to containing the virus. But only in combination with compliance with the 1.5 meter rule, Rutte emphasizes.
Mayor Femke Halsema of Amsterdam went further than the advice of the cabinet on Monday evening. She advised on behalf of the regions of Amsterdam-Amstelland, Rotterdam-Rijnmond, Haaglanden and Brabant-Zuidoost to wear a face mask in all publicly accessible indoor spaces. It is an urgent advice and not an obligation. A so-called instruction from the cabinet is required for a masking obligation.
Opposition parties in the House of Representatives criticize the cabinet’s position on masks. SP leader Lilian Marijnissen thinks it is unfair that the ball is placed with the shopkeepers. “Let others get the coals out of the fire. That won’t get you anywhere. Make a clear strategy with uniform agreements.”
Jesse Klaver (GroenLinks): “Clarify: a clear guideline for the use of mouth masks throughout the country.”
Rutte puts on a face mask: ‘I think it contributes something’
The cabinet also received criticism from the American virologist Anthony Fauci on Monday. In conversation with News hour Fauci called on RIVM boss Jaap van Dissel to take a look at the rapidly growing amount of data on the effectiveness of mouth masks. Van Dissel believes that face masks only provide a false sense of security.
Fauci himself was against wearing mouth masks, but has now come to other insights. He does not like a duty, but according to him it would help to motivate people to wear a mouth mask.
For the time being, the cabinet is leaving the choice to retailers and regional managers. In the coming weeks it will be a question of whether we will succeed in turning the tide. It remains to be seen what role the mouth mask will play in this.
Prime Minister Rutte, who lives in The Hague himself, said he would wear a mouth mask when shopping. “I think it contributes something.”
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