Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has announced the Netherlands will go into a partial lockdown from 10:00 PM Wednesday (tonight) in order to combat the spread of Covid-19, which has recently been increasingly dramatically in the country. These new measures will apply for four weeks, with a review after two weeks.
1. New regulations
The partial lockdown will involve the following new measure:
- Bars and restaurants will close although takeaway will still be possible
- Shops will not be allowed to sell alcohol or soft drugs from 8:00 PM until 7:00 AM the next morning
- It will be prohibited to carry or consume alcohol or soft drugs in public spaces from 8:00 PM until 7:00 AM the next morning
- Shops must also close at 8:00 PM (this provision excludes shops selling foodstuffs)
- People are instructed to work from home, unless this is really not possible
- Everyone over the age of 13 must wear face masks when indoors, this will also apply to education
- Hotels can remain open and can serve food to guests, however there is still a maximum of 30 people allowed in all indoor spaces
- At home, people can receive a maximum of three people a day
- Group sports for adult amateurs is banned
2. Travel restrictions
Rutte also called on the population not to travel to orange or red areas. Whilst Belgium has been categorised as orange for the Netherlands since Tuesday, the Netherlands is almost entirely red for Belgian travellers, meaning travel there is strongly discouraged and those who do must enter quarantine and take a Covid-19 test upon their return to Belgium. The only exception is that Zeeland, a province which borders Belgium and the Netherlands, is listed as an orange zone although authorities recommend increased vigilance.
3. What does this mean for Belgium?
The new measures to be enforce countrywide in the Netherlands are not so different to those already in place in some parts of Belgium. However, whilst the neighbouring Netherlands ‘locks down’, Belgium continues to discuss measures, will we see a similar partial lockdown here too?
4. The data
The Netherlands has been suffering with coronavirus recently, with 43,903 new cases recorded between 7 and 13 October, a 60% increase compared to the week before. The population is 17.28 million (2019). In comparison, Belgium saw 35,939 new cases recorded between 4 to 10 October (this is the last full week of data). The population is 11.46 million (2019).
5. How Belgium proceeds
With this in mind, although comparing situations is much more complex than just a numbers game, it is sure that increasing figures and warnings from the health sector back up the opinions from experts that the next few weeks will be extremely important in shaping Belgium’s future. Whether we follow in the Netherlands’ footsteps or not remains to be seen.