‘The Country Will Reopen’ – Dutch Government Announces Dramatic Loosening of COVID Rules

People have drinks at a bar along the Rembrandtplein as cafes and restaurants reopened following the relaxation of the Covid-19 measures, in Amstrdam on January 26, 2022. - The Netherlands lifted some of Europe's toughest Covid restrictions with bars, restaurants and museums allowed to reopen their doors, Prime Minister Mark …
RAMON VAN FLYMEN/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

The Dutch government has announced that it will be dramatically loosening its COVID lockdown rules over the coming weeks, with the nation’s health minister declaring that ‘the country will reopen’.

Authorities in the Netherlands have announced that the country will soon be scrapping almost all of its COVID lockdown rules, with only a small number of measures to remain in place after February 25.

This relaxation — which was announced during a press conference on Tuesday evening — will not include a total end to the use of COVID passes, but will see them no longer based on a person’s vaccination status, while also severely limiting their use cases.

According to a report by De Telegraaf, some measures in the country — such as restriction on the number of people allowed to visit another’s home — were immediately lifted after the end of Tuesday’s press conference, during which the relaxation roadmap was announced.

A further relaxation is now scheduled to take place on Friday, which will see a dramatic loosening of opening time restrictions for bars and restaurants — allowing them to operate until 1 am — as well as an end to a number of restrictions revolving around the wearing of masks.

Finally, almost all of the country’s remaining anti-COVID measures will be repealed on February 25 — including measures involving social distancing — though a mask mandate in airports and on public transport will remain in place.

A COVID pass will also still be required to enter venues hosting more than 500 people, though this pass will now only demonstrate a recent negative test for the Chinese Coronavirus, and will be required regardless of a person’s jabbed status.

During Tuesday’s press conference, the Dutch health minister emphasised that because of the success of the nation’s booster campaign, as well as the reported fact that Omicron was making people in the country less sick, “the country will reopen”.

“The country will open up again … happily we are in a different phase now,” Reuters reports the minister as saying.

He also expressed “great confidence” in the personal responsibility of individuals within the country, saying that Dutch themselves would be responsible for making sensible choices to keep the virus under control.

“The country is reopening. In large steps, in quick succession,” Kuipers wrote online. “This is necessary for a healthy society. But for the vulnerable among us, this is a dramatic time.”

“Therefore keep taking into account each other, because corona is not gone,” he also wrote.

While the Netherlands has decided not to end mandatory masking on public transport and in airports — with the health minister citing a risk of increased infections should those measures have been relaxed — other European countries either are looking to get rid of forced mask-wearing, or have already dumped the requirement.

England and Denmark have both already scrapped mask mandates in their entirety, though government authorities in Blighty have struggled to get some schools to stop forcing their students to wear face coverings.

Meanwhile, the devolved government of Northern Ireland has also scrapped mask-wearing in pubs, restaurants, shops and on public transport, though the region’s department of education has yet to clarify whether the mandate in schools will also be gotten rid of.

Authorities in the south of the island also look set to follow suit, with government sources in the Republic saying late Tuesday evening that officials were looking to imminently scrap forced mask-wearing in shops, schools and on public transport.

“[The Irish public health emergency team] kept masks to get more kids vaccinated but that was always going to be challenging as parents don’t rush to get their kids vaccinated and they don’t really get sick from it,” the Irish Independent reported one government source as saying.

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