Just after the peak of the third wave, the cabinet is letting go of the reins: next week the curfew will expire and terraces and shops will open again, sources in The Hague report.
The relaxations from 28 April are accompanied by conditions: terraces will first be allowed to open limited, with a closing time of, for example, 6 p.m. or a ban on alcohol from a certain time. A maximum of two guests outside the household are also allowed per table, says an insider. Shops will soon be allowed to receive one customer per 25 square meters, according to a scenario, but today all the finishing touches are being made.
Although the contamination figures are still relatively high, various signals are still green, the cabinet said yesterday. In the Catshuis, ministers were presented with ‘bright spots’ on Sunday, said Minister Tamara van Ark (Medical Care, VVD): ,, The hospitals are still very busy, but we are seeing a decrease in the daily number of people who end up in the hospital. . ”
Yesterday, the RIVM identified more than 7,000 new infections, and hospitals now have 2,544 corona patients, 66 more than Sunday. Of these, 813 are in the ICU (5 more than the day before).
Bed coordinator Ernst Kuipers also sees growth leveling off. “We have a deviation in the number of new admissions per day,” said Kuipers (Erasmus MC, National Network Acute Care). “It seems that we have passed the peak in terms of the number of new admissions. In this phase, the time has come to consider how you can gradually relax certain measures.
The cabinet will not be able to say this twice, it seems, after weeks of alternating a half-empty glass with a half-full glass. Two weeks ago it was leaked that a first major relaxation was possible on 21 April, last Tuesday Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister Hugo de Jonge (Public Health) had to report that it was not possible. They were also still gloomy last Friday, but new forecasts from the RIVM now still offer room for ‘pink glasses’: “The models are moving in the right direction,” reports a member of the OMT, the Outbreak Management Team.
Yesterday, the mayor of Breda ended Radio 538’s grand and controversial Fieldlab experiment with 10,000 visitors. After fierce resistance from healthcare personnel, among others, there will be no permit for the test party.
The fact is that after weeks of debating, the cabinet now sees room for a serious relaxation step. From next week, terraces and shops can open more, the curfew will expire and people may again receive two instead of one visitor at home, sources report.
Minister Hugo de Jonge (Public Health, CDA) did not want to anticipate it yesterday, there is another press conference tonight: “It was too early to take that step last week, but we are looking from week to week. You have to look at the figures for the past week in combination with the forecasts for the coming week, which we only received last Sunday. ” Minister Ferd Grapperhaus (Justice and Security, CDA) said: “I do not want to say that we have seen the light, but we went out with a good spirit at the Catshuis.”
Within the OMT too, more optimistic texts sound, although the experts are more careful about the moment when everything becomes possible: “The leveling off, the plateau, can be seen. You can always wait longer to be sure, but that is up to politicians. ” Another insider says: “The models are moving in the right direction. You can only doubt whether April 28 is already the time, or whether that is better a week later. ”
Those involved assume that the rebound will be less severe if the numbers of infections and hospital admissions increase again after easing. With hundreds of thousands of vaccinations a week, more and more people who have had the virus and a seasonal effect, a ‘fourth wave’ will be lower than the previous three booms, experts expect.
Last week, Rutte and De Jonge launched an ‘opening plan’, in which the Netherlands must achieve a ‘normal summer’ via six steps with relaxation. Step one is the easing of April 28. If that still has to be done today, it would lead to great disappointment.