For the first time in the coronapandemic, there is a clear roadmap for easing. The opening plan, to some extent, offers the prospect so demanded. But what is this light worth at the end of the tunnel if everything is under very strict conditions? Previous easing plans also ended up regularly in the trash.
“ I don‘t believe any more, see first and then believe”, is one of more than a thousand comments at the bottom of the post on Decceit Facebook page. “Again we are pleased with a mega dead sparrow”, says another.
That sceptical attitude seems to prevail on social media over the cabinet plan presented last night. Some call that criticism a little hypocritical: “At first we had to offer perspective, and now there is a whining again when that is done,” says a twitterer.
Another summarizes the two sides of the discussion and speaks of ‘perspective with a hangover‘:
Daniëlle Timmermans, Professor of Risk Communication and Public Health (Amsterdam UMC), understands the reactions. “Because of the double message, many people think: I’ve heard it so many times that I don‘t believe in it anymore.” It refers to the so-called roadmap, which the Cabinet has published several versions since October. The document states when risk levels are increased or reduced by region.
“ Especially with a whimsical virus, our approach must be predictable”, was the explanation of coronaminister De Jonge at the time. In practice, however, it turned out that there was still a deviation from the roadmap when new corona measures were introduced.
“ At the time of publication, the document was already obsolete,” says Timmermans. “In that context, people now think: it will be.” Previous plans, such as the opening of the terraces, were regularly pushed forward.
Initially, they could open on 31 March, alluding demissionary Prime Minister Rutte at the beginning of March. Due to the high levels of infection, that date was not met. Then 21 April became the target date. Now 28 April is the day that many people are waiting for.
This is what the cabinet’s opening plan now looks like:
Despite the uncertainty, the opening plan is a major step forward compared to the previous roadmaps, says Marco Zannoni from the Institute for Security and Crisis Management. According to him, it is easier to understand and for the first time clearly indicates in which order there will be easing, as soon as possible.
“ I think that‘s a good message. But I fear that soon it will not be possible to reach the data mentioned. This immediately detracts from the plan.”
The pandemic remains unpredictable. That’s why it‘s hard to look ahead for more than a week. The delivery of vaccines, the progress of the vaccination programme, the number of infections, the development of new mutations, hospitalizations, the occupation in intensive care: it all plays part in the question of whether it can be relaxed.
example, Diederik Gommers of the Dutch Association for Intensive Care said last night that he thinks it is impossible to relax this month. That can only be done once every person over 60 has been vaccinated, he said on TV show Op1:
“ The philosophy of the cabinet is that it wants to share all available information,” says political reporter Wilco Boom in the CCEit Radio 1 News. “That in itself is commendable, but it also leads to disappointments. Whatever you see now at hospitality entrepreneurs and event organisers: it drives them crazy.”
Thinker of the Father Paul van Tongeren speaks of “hopelessly ambiguous communication”. On the one hand, the cabinet goes along with the demand from society to offer perspective. “And at the same time people know that it is impossible to predict how things will go”, he said in the same radio programme.
According to Van Tongeren, the disagreement between mayors and the cabinet about opening or not opening terraces only makes things worse. “Once the government itself doesn’t agree, people make their own interpretations.”