Coronavirus, government measures in NL (updated 23/03)

by Mihaela Breabin

First announced at a press conference on Thursday, March 12th and later updated in further statements on March 16th, the Dutch government has implemented safety measures based on the advice of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, healthcare Minister Bruno Bruins, and the Director of the RIVM, Jaap van Diesel. Here are some new rules might affect your routine until April 6th.

Currently there are three possible scenarios, but only the first one currently applies to the Netherlands and that is to maximally curb the virus. As the RIVM and premier Mark Rutte stated in his speech of last Monday, Dutch society will use the safety measures stated below trying to reduce the number of infections and spread it out over a longer time. The logic is that if most people will only fall slightly ill from the new corona virus, society will build immunity and the overloading of hospitals and intensive care units will be avoided. In such a scenario, there will be enough resources to help the vulnerable part of the population, which consists of the elderly and people with other underlying chronic diseases.

Under this framework, universities and HBO colleges cancelled all forms of physical education and urged that classes and exams take place online until March 31. If possible, people are encouraged to work from home. Social events and gatherings that include an audience of more than 100 people have also been cancelled.

Consequently, museums and theatres are closed; sporting events and concerts will not take place. Bars, restaurants and coffee houses have shut as well. However, some restaurants continue to take delivery orders while accepting payment only by card or electronic means. In the latest changes, primary, secondary, and vocational schools are now closed too, despite Rutte’s prior insistence that they remain open.

People are strongly advised to stay home and avoid any social contact if they have a cold, sore throat or fever. Only people coming from high risk areas (China, Italy, Iran, Singapore, South Korea) and/or those with severe symptoms such as high fever and shortness of breath should go to the hospital. In other circumstances, the authorities recommend isolation and calling your GP for further advice. The elderly and people with weak immune systems or chronic diseases are advised to take extra precautions.

Effective preventive measures, according to the Dutch public health institute RIVM and World Health Organisations, are: washing your hands frequently and rigorously, and avoiding shaking hands and other kinds of physical contact with others. Keep a distance of 1.5 meters between yourself and others, avoid touching your face and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. Try to avoid commutes and time outside as much as possible.

In addition to those measures above, the government has decided on Monday as follows:

  1. All public events are banned until 01/06/2020
  2. It is not lockdown but on the streets are not allowed move around more than two people
  3. Supermarkets and food shops can keep their doors open but everyone has to keep distance and max 1 person any 10 sqm is allowed.
  4. Barbershops and Coiffeur have to close their doors

We advise everyone to stay calm, follow the safety measures and keep a close eye on the media, as changes and new regulations are sure to be announced.


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