Although the infection rates are slowly but surely lowering, a third corona wave seems inevitably coming at us. That is what Prime Minister Rutte said at the press conference on the extension of the lockdown. “We are in an exciting, uncertain phase,” he said.
If the British variant were not there, alleviations would be possible, Rutte said. But now two thirds of all new infections come from the British variant, which is one and a half times more contagious than the classical one.
“ Therefore, it is inevitable to extend the lockdown until 2 March, otherwise we will be presented with the bill of too much optimism now”, Rutte argued.
Cabinet has not yet made a decision on extending the curfew. It will expire on 10 February, but could be extended. The government has asked the OMT for a new opinion to clarify whether the curfew actually contributes to curbing the virus. Next weekend a decision will have to be made.
Especially the advance of the British variant worries the demissionary cabinet:
Primary schools and childcare centres will be reopened as of next week. When a student or teacher tests positive, the whole class must be quarantined for at least five days, including the teacher. If new tests do not reveal any infections, the children will be allowed to return to school.
Many teachers fear infection when primary schools reopen, but according to Rutte, the risk is limited. The chances of them getting infected by students are small. Nevertheless, a petition to open the schools only once all teachers have been vaccinated has already been signed 25,000 times.
In any case, secondary education will remain closed until Monday 1 March. Only graduation students are allowed to go to school. If secondary education reopens, one must keep a distance of 1.5 metres. A number of schools are now investigating how fast testing and keeping distance works in practice.
Living as normal as possible
Starting next Wednesday, non-essential stores may be limited open for picking up orders. Customers can only order items by phone or digital and can then pick them up at the store four hours later.
Today, the Cabinet also presents a new roadmap, stating the situation in which measures can be relaxed or tightened. The Cabinet wants to give citizens perspective, “the way back to a life as normal as possible”.
fact that the Roadmap also includes possible simplifications is new. “But 100 percent certainty is not to give”, warned Rutte. “We can show what direction it goes if we stick to the rules, if we test more, if we vaccinate more people.”