THE HAGUE – Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has announced several new measures in the fight against coronavirus COVID-19 in the Netherlands on Thursday. For example, there will be a registration obligation in the catering industry.
Travelers arriving at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport will be able to be tested for free.
Travelers returning from a risk area, which also includes St. Maarten, must be quarantined when they return home. The Municipal Health Service GGD will check by telephone whether they are adhering to home quarantine.
At the end of next week, the Dutch government hopes to set up a “test street” at Schiphol Airport, with other airports in the country to follow later.
Travelers returning from code-orange countries should be tested to make sure they have not been infected and carry the virus, Rutte said. The test will not be mandatory, but those who do not have themselves tested on arrival will have to go into home quarantine for 14 days.
Regarding foreign holidays, Minister of Public Health, Welfare and Sports Hugo de Jonge criticized people who spend time in high-risk countries. “People do not have to travel to a code-orange area,” he said. “If they do, they must stay at home for two weeks and undergo a test if they have symptoms.”
In addition, officials will use airline passenger lists to check that people are staying at home as required, he said. Testing at Schiphol will also be introduced for everyone flying in from a risky location, but cannot be made compulsory, he said.
De Jonge highlighted the need for regional approaches to combat the virus. The current situation in the Netherlands shows that the situation in Rotterdam requires a different approach to that in Drenthe, he said.
De Jonge also confirmed that trials of the controversial government app will begin in Drenthe and the Twente region on August 12, and the aim is to roll the app out nationwide in September.
Rutte and De Jonge both stressed that it is up to everyone to obey the guidelines to keep the virus under control. “I am not a dictator, and we are giving you the facts,” Rutte said. “In the end it is up to us, as adults in an adult democracy. We all have to stick to the rules.”
In the Netherlands, 601 infections with COVID-19 have been detected in the past 24 hours, which is the highest number since April 26. The left-wing opposition in the Dutch Parliament is very critical and blames the Rutte government for lack of direction.
“The coronavirus is undergoing a dangerous advance: the figures do not lie,” Rutte stated during Thursday’s press conference. “More and more people are no longer adhering to the basic rules. We are in danger of forfeiting the gains we have made in recent months.”
Rutte made a special appeal to young people who do not respect the rules to the letter. “Do not get close to frail older people. Corona is not over. It is not a joke and it is extremely stupid to pretend that it is. So, keep to the rules and cooperate with the contact-and-source research.”
The introduction weeks for new students at universities and colleges should continue online as much as possible. Hazing is out of the question.
From now on, contact details must also be left behind by visitors to bars, restaurants and other establishments in the catering industry. If multiple infections are found, businesses can be closed for a maximum of 14 days. This rule also applies to museums and amusement parks in the Netherlands.
Mayors may limit the opening hours of catering and night shops until midnight. They also have the right to no longer admit supporters in professional and amateur soccer.
Rutte said he was annoyed by supporters of Feyenoord Rotterdam who attended a public training session of their favorite soccer team on Tuesday. “They sang passionately and that is against the rules,” Rutte stated.