Since today, the weather has been mandatory to keep a distance of one and a half meters, under penalty of a fine of 95 euros. The distance rule is not the only measure that was first relaxed and later tightened again. Earlier, for example, this happened with the work from home advice and with the face mask duty in stores and supermarkets.
The Council of State warns the outgoing cabinet that it does not have to let go of corona rules all the time, and then introduce them again. According to the government‘s highest advisory body, the reintroduction of the one-and-a-half meter rule fits in a trend: “In the past period, it has again shown that measures are rapidly scaled if the number of infections falls.”
This “yo-yo policy” can ultimately backfire, says the Council of State. It leads to confusion among citizens, which makes them less abide by the rules.
end of July, the council said something similar. “It must be avoided that, from the very understandable desire to open up society again, implemented eases must be reversed shortly afterwards.” According to the council, in addition to “social disappointment”, this could also pose a different risk: the credibility and effectiveness of the corona measures would be affected by it.
The risks have also been emphasized several times in the Corona Behavioral Unit of the RIVM, says Professor of Health Communication Julia van Weert (Uva): “Do not smooth too quickly, prevent measures from having to be reversed. It’s very difficult for people to restick to something that their mindset was just like: that doesn‘t have to be anymore.”
According to Van Weert, who advises the Corona Behavioral Unit, the outgoing cabinet could therefore have scaled down the corona measures better dosed. “It’s better to prevent a yo-yo effect than to relax too quickly.”
But what do you do if strict corona rules are actually no longer necessary, this Twitter is wondering:
The Council of State also touches on that dilemma. According to the advisory body, a scaling down of measures as quickly as possible “from a point of view of proportionality” is quite understandable. For example, the one-and-a-half meter rule should only apply if it is necessary and proportional to combat the epidemic.
In other words, we should not maintain rules that are no longer necessary or disproportionate to the epidemiological situation of that moment. “That‘s a grey area,” says health communication scientist Van Weert. “The OMT does calculate a thing or two, but you can’t predict everything exactly. When in doubt, you‘d better sit on the one side: relax in steps.” An additional advantage, according to Van Weert, is that you will therefore gain better insight into the effectiveness of the individual measures.
“And of course, as a politics, you also want to bring positive news. But if it was’ overpositive ‘afterwards, then that’s not good for trust.”
Meanwhile, the pressure on the outgoing cabinet to take even more measures is only increasing, despite the possible yo-yo effect. On Friday, Prime Minister Rutte and Minister De Jonge will hold a press conference on the corona situation, a week earlier than planned.
The reason is that the situation is currently “bleak and worrying”, De Jonge said today:
The question is: how farther? According to Van Weert, a lot must be taken out of the closet to save the crisis communication. “In any case, it would be good if the cabinet itself put on the fine cloth and says: we would have estimated this too positively. So, unfortunately, we have to appeal to you more than we were hoped for now.”