Vaccination against COVID-19 has now started in the Netherlands. That means that we are now entering a new phase in this crisis. But unfortunately this does not mean that we can lift all the measures currently in place. Most people are still at risk and many people in the Netherlands are still infectious. The measures cannot therefore be relaxed in any way if we are to combat the spread of coronavirus. The basic rules can only be set aside once the vast majority of people in the Netherlands have been vaccinated.
Stay at home, limit contact with others and work from home
The purpose of the extended lockdown is to minimise contact between people. Less contact means fewer infections. Staying at home is the best way to minimise contact with others. The government therefore advises everyone to stay at home as much as possible. If you invite people to your home, you are advised not to have more than two visitors per day.
The advice to stay at home means that in principle everyone should also work from home. Many infections happen at work or while travelling to or from work. This makes working from home an effective way to combat the spread of coronavirus. Only people whose presence is essential to operational processes and who cannot do their work from home can go to their workplace. Employers must ensure that any employee who can work from home does so.
Outdoors the maximum group size is two people. Groups of three or more are only permitted if everyone in the group lives together. This applies even if people stay 1.5 metres apart. Adults can exercise alone or with one other person, and only outside. They must maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from each other. Children aged 17 and under may take part in team sports and play matches against children at the same club, but only outside.
Doing more to look out for each other
The extended lockdown will have a major impact on society and the economy. These are difficult times for business owners and employees alike. We must pull together to help each other come out the other side. The government will therefore do its utmost to ensure businesses and employees are able to get through this period. The Ministers of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (Eric Wiebes), Finance (Wopke Hoekstra) and Social Affairs and Employment (Wouter Koolmees) are working to expand the support and recovery package for businesses and employees. They will provide more details on this next week.
Many people have been through a difficult period due to the coronavirus pandemic and the measures taken in response. And for many people this extension of the lockdown means an even longer period of financial insecurity, loneliness or other concerns. So it is important now more than ever that we look out for each other. Even if we have to do so remotely or digitally.
Public venues and schools will stay closed
In order to slow the spread of the virus, we need to have as little contact with others as possible. That is why museums, theatres, amusement parks, zoos, casinos, saunas, indoor sporting facilities, cafes and restaurants (including in hotels) will stay closed until at least 9 February. Retailers such as clothing stores, shoe shops, jewellers and shops selling craft supplies will also remain closed, as will hairdressers, nail salons, tattoo parlours and other close contact services.
Secondary schools, secondary vocational schools (MBO) and higher education institutions (universities and HBO) will continue to teach online for at least another four weeks (until 8 February). Primary school children will also continue to be taught remotely. Childcare centres will remain closed. The possibility of opening primary schools and childcare centres earlier, perhaps from 25 January, will be looked into. Exceptions still apply for vulnerable children, lessons for pupils with upcoming final exams, practical training, and exams.
In the weeks ahead primary schools and childcare centres will continue to provide emergency childcare for the children of key workers. Parents should use emergency childcare only if they have no other option. The OMT will be issuing advice on the effects of the ‘British variant’ of coronavirus on children. On the basis of this advice the government will decide whether, and if so when, it will be possible for primary schools and childcare centres to reopen. As a precaution, and where possible, secondary school pupils being taught at school should stay 1.5 metres apart.
Do not travel abroad
Every journey you make increases the risk of more infections. So you are urgently advised not to travel abroad or book trips abroad until 31 March. Only travel abroad if this is essential, for instance in the event of serious family circumstances or for work that absolutely cannot be postponed and which absolutely requires your physical presence. People returning to the Netherlands after such essential travel must be able to present a negative COVID-19 test result and must self-quarantine for 10 days.
On 2 February the government will assess what measures are necessary after 9 February.
Overview of measures
Until at least 9 February 2021 the current measures will continue to apply:
- Stay at home. You should only go outside to buy essentials, to get some fresh air, to walk the dog, to go to work if you cannot work from home or to provide essential informal care or support.
- Only receive visitors at home if this is absolutely necessary. If you decide to have visitors, you are urgently advised to receive no more than 2 visitors aged 13 or over.
- Work from home. Only people whose presence is essential to operational processes and who cannot do their work from home can go to work.
- Only go outside with members of your household, on your own or with 1 other person.
- Some locations are closed:
- Shops (except those selling essentials like food)
- Locations where contact-based professions are carried out, such as hairdressers, nail salons and sex establishments.
- Theatres, concert halls, cinemas, casinos, etc.
- Zoos, amusement parks, etc.
- Indoor sports facilities, gyms, swimming pools, saunas, spas etc.
- Restaurants and cafes
- Hotels are open, but hotel restaurants are closed and room service is not available.
- Adults can exercise alone or with one other person, and only outside. Children aged 17 and under may take part in team sports and play matches against children at the same club, but only outside.
- Use public transport for essential travel only.
- Do not travel abroad and do not books trips abroad until 31 March.
- Only medical professionals and allied health professionals may carry out work that involves close contact with clients or patients.
Until at least 8 February, educational institutions will provide most teaching remotely. Secondary schools can offer practical training, school exams for pupils in the upper years and lessons for pupils with upcoming final exams on site. Secondary vocational schools (MBO), higher professional education institutions (HBO) and universities can offer exams and practical training on site. All educational institutions can make exceptions to provide support to vulnerable children or students. Daycare and out-of-school care centres will remain closed during this period.
The OMT will be issuing advice on the effects of the ‘British variant’ of coronavirus on children. On the basis of this advice the government will decide if and when primary schools and childcare centres can reopen.
For children whose parents work in critical sectors, emergency childcare is available at their primary school, daycare centre and/or out-of-school care centre. Parents are urged to use emergency childcare only if they have no other option.