Relaxations: ‘Shopping by appointment, higher education and MBO open’

Shops in the center of Nijmegen. Some of the shopkeepers and catering entrepreneurs threaten to open their doors on Saturday – even if there is no relaxation.Image ANP

Sources confirm that de Volkskrant after reporting from NOS. RTL News reports that the sports opportunities for adults are also being expanded. Sports are also possible again under conditions. The catering and cultural sector will reportedly remain closed for the time being.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte and OMT chief Jaap van Dissel consulted on Thursday in the Catshuis, for the first time with the new corona minister Ernst Kuipers and the new education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf, about whether or not to relax the hard lockdown. The pressure on the cabinet to relax is increasing. In recent weeks, shopkeepers and catering entrepreneurs have watched with dismay as the Dutch flock across the border en masse to do their shopping and eat out there.

In recent days, various municipalities and also provinces have supported the call from not only entrepreneurs, but also the sports sector and education, to lift some of the measures. Some of the shops and catering entrepreneurs threaten to open their doors on Saturday anyway. A number of shops in Sittard opened their doors last week. The municipality eventually intervened, but with more and more local authorities showing understanding for the concerns of the shopkeepers and catering entrepreneurs, it is quite possible that the enforcers will condone civil disobedience.

There is no more in it yet

With shopping by appointment, the cabinet hopes to partially meet the needs of entrepreneurs. There doesn’t seem to be anything more in store for entrepreneurs and the cultural sector. With the relaxation of the measures, the reopening of education is in first place, followed by wider opportunities to exercise again. Primary schools have started again from this week, resuming higher education is at the top of the list.

Sources around the cabinet speak of perhaps one of the most difficult decisions that policymakers have faced in the corona crisis. Because while the call for relaxation is increasing and the omikron variant seems to give a milder clinical picture, infection record after infection record is being broken. The peak is expected to come. If measures are released too quickly, too many people could become ill in a short time, with the possible consequence that a large part of the Netherlands would have to be quarantined.

Minister Kuipers already hinted on Thursday that the quarantine rules might have to be relaxed. The image is also that infections are now mainly among young people, but as soon as they spread to the older age groups, this can still lead to serious illness and problems in healthcare.

The cabinet will discuss the measures further on Friday, the final decisions will be announced at a press conference on Friday evening.


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