Netherlands re-introduces facemasks & other restrictions as Covid-19 cases surge

The Dutch government has announced re-introduction of certain coronavirus restrictions, including face masks, citing a new surge in Covid-19 cases. The daily number of infections looks on course to reach pandemic peaks.

The new tightening of anti-Covid measures was announced by Prime Minister Mark Rutte late on Tuesday. Rutte urged all citizens, vaccinated and unvaccinated, to stick to basic hygiene rules and to self-isolate if they are feeling unwell.

“Our own behavior is crucial, a very large part of our coronavirus policy depends on it,” he said.

Mandatory masking will be once again required in stores, as well as other public venues, including airports and railway stations. Citizens are encouraged to work from home, if possible, for at least half of their working hours.

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Use of the “corona pass,” a document showing proof of vaccination or a recent negative test, will be expanded as well. Starting November 6, the Dutch version of the vaccination passport will be required to visit such public venues as gyms, museums, as well as amateur sports events and even outdoor dining spaces. Masks won’t be compulsory at the venues where a proof of vaccination is required, local media reported.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, health minister Hugo de Jonge reported that most hospitalized coronavirus patients are not vaccinated, adding that “they did not need to be there if they had been.” However, Rutte made clear that his government is not poised to shut the unvaccinated out of the society, at least for now. 

“Saying you can’t go in [because you are not vaccinated] is not in our plans, but you can’t rule it out in the future,” Rutte said.

Dutch coronavirus cases have grown steadily since early October, with the daily infections soaring over 7,400 in the last week. The figures still fall short of the worst peaks the country experienced over the course of the pandemic, when the daily case tally reached well over 13,000. A nation of some 17.4 million, the Netherlands has registered a total of 2.18 million Covid-19 cases, with nearly 19,000 people succumbing to the disease, according to the latest figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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FILE PHOTO: A local healthcare worker prepares a dose of Covid-19 vaccine in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands, 14 April 2021 © Global Look Press / Patrick van Katwijk
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