All Dutch schools, childcare, restaurants, coffeeshops to close for 3 weeks
After hints that the Dutch government has not been adequately addressing the severity of the threat COVID-19, also known as Corona Virus, poses to residents and the alarming rate at which it is spreading across the nation, the government tonight said in a statement that all Netherlands schools and childcare facilities, as well as bars and restaurants will be shutting down for three weeks. The tentative plan calls for business to close until April 6.
Dutch Minister of Health, Bruno Bruins spoke alongside Arie Slob, Dutch Minister of Education in an emergency Sunday evening press conference. The pair discussed additional precautions in measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and advised residents to not come within one and a half meters of one another. Restrictions encouraging Dutch to work from home and to avoid going out in public as much as possible have also been extended until 6 April. In addition to restaurants, bars, schools and childcare facilities, catering services, sports clubs, saunas, sex clubs, and coffeeshops will also be closed. Effective Monday 16 March, these businesses are closed. Sports clubs and saunas must close by 18:00 tonight.
Confusion leaves residents and tourists in doubt.
Until this most recent statement, it was unclear to many just how to handle this current situation. Many tourists with uncancelled flights continued to express interest in traveling to Amsterdam to see the famous tulips and coffeeshops up until this evening.
Prior to this latest statement, hopeful, yet potentially ignorant tourists could be seen across Amsterdam travel forums, posting pictures of bottles hand sanitizer waiting eagerly beside their passports and hoping for a safe flight. Now, they will need to stay home while the Dutch rush to the coffeeshop to stock up before it is too late. Stock is running out quickly!
After this latest government release, the famous Dutch coffeeshops experienced a rush of guests, much like the Dutch grocery stores did following Friday’s statement, cautioning residents not to leave the house if experiencing even mild cold or respiratory symptoms. Many Dutch grocery stores are now seeing shortages of essentials including toilet paper, flour, milk, meat, and bread, as concerned residents scramble to prepare themselves for a potential illness and, or lockdown situation.
An emergency Sunday press conference is called after outcry over the lack of information and intervention.
New measures were decided after an emergency meeting of the Dutch Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM), and members from the education sector, hospital organizations and the Federation of Medical Specialists. Calls to close schools became louder throughout the end of the week, as the Prime Minister honed in upon the “major consequences for the effects of the crisis response” if parents working in critical sectors, such as healthcare had to stay home to provide childcare.
Similar restrictions to those announced at the press conference were announced in Belgium on Thursday, putting increased pressure upon Dutch officials. Belgium currently has 886 cases of Corona Virus, while the Netherlands is home to 1,135 confirmed cases. The Belgians have been encouraged to remain home if at all possible and Belgian Shops can stay open during the week, but must close on weekends, with the exception of pharmacies and grocery stores.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte will address the Netherlands on Monday to discuss the plan to combat the Corona Virus in further detail. Rutte’s address is scheduled to begin at 7 PM GMT+1.