Cabinet takes back control, opposition critical of mouth masks advice | NOW


With a series of national measures, the cabinet is taking back control of corona control from the regions. The regional approach that Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister Hugo de Jonge (Public Health) rolled out has been scaled down over the next three weeks. “We are now continuing with national measures to get out of the virus again.” The opposition does not think it is enough. 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 becoming increasingly red,” said the prime minister on Monday. The government is forced to take tougher action due to persistently increasing corona infections and overflowing hospitals.

Before the weekend, Rutte said he still had confidence in the approach where the regions themselves had to take measures to contain the virus, but now sees that that is not enough. “That has been a matter of progressive insight.”

Cabinet temporarily discontinues regional approach

This temporarily puts a stop to the regional approach that the cabinet announced at the beginning of the month. Regions in the Netherlands should suppress the virus on the basis of three classification frameworks (vigilant, worrisome and serious) with a set of measures from the so-called toolbox.

But in recent weeks this has proved insufficient. No clarity yet 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 should ensure a clear and predictable policy, and exactly that was lacking in recent weeks.

The corona dashboard with signal values ​​would provide a timely warning, the corona app would help detect infections and be an important support for GGDs in source and contact research. That too is not going as the cabinet had hoped. Rutte: “Testing and source and contact investigations are not yet perfect.

The number of corona infections in combination with the reproduction number 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 yet part of the new package of procedures. However, corona fireplaces in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague are advised to wear a mouth mask in shops. Where the prime minister thought in previous months that the face masks would provide a false sense of security, he now sees that it can contribute something to contain the virus. Then always in combination with observing the one-and-a-half meter rule.

On Monday evening, Mayor Halsema went further than the cabinet’s advice and announced on behalf of the regions of Amsterdam-Amstelland, Rotterdam-Rijnmond, Haaglanden and Brabant-Zuidoost that she wants the mask to be put on 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 denounce the cabinet’s position of 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: clear guidelines for the use of mouth masks throughout the country.”

Rutte puts on a face mask: ‘I think it contributes something’

The cabinet was also criticized by the American top virologist Anthony Fauci. In conversation with News hour Fauci called on RIVM boss Jaap van Dissel, who thinks that mouth masks provide a false sense of security, to take a look at the fast-growing data on the effectiveness of mouth protection.

Fauci himself was against wearing mouth masks, but has now come to other insights. He does not like a duty, but it would help to motivate people to wear a mouth mask.

For the time being, the cabinet is not yet taking control of this discussion and is leaving it to the retailers and regional managers. In the coming weeks it will be a question of whether the tide will be turned again. 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 yes.”

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