Demissionary prime minister Mark Rutte and health minister Hugo de Jonge will host a new press conference this Friday, a week before the one planned on December 3.
De Jonge said the decision has been made following a meeting with ministers because the outlook for containing coronavirus, with the current infection rate and estimates is worrying.
The government’s health advisory team will meet on Wednesday evening to make recommendations on new measures. Several members of the OMT have been pressing for a lockdown to curb the rise in new cases. Pressure has been mounting on the government to act, as the number of positive tests is structurally over 20,000 coronavirus infections per day and is rising by around 40% a week, and some hospitals say they can no longer cope. Diederik Gommers, head of the Dutch intensive care association, has warned that hospitals will be faced with a ‘code black’ situation, in which they are forced to choose who to treat, within 10 days.
A number of stricter rules now apply, such as closing shops and the catering industry earlier. As a result, according to De Jonge, a turnaround should actually be visible in the figures this week. “And otherwise we have to force it.”, he said to the national broadcasting channel NOS.
The government has already re-introduced existing rules but without the usual formal announcement during a press conference. Social distancing of 1.5 meter is mandatory back from Wednesday. Primary schools, where infections are rising, have invited parents and visitors to keep 1.5 meter distance inside and outside the school, wear a face mask indoor and do self testing when having flu symptoms.
The cabinet wants to take decisions on Friday and announce them at a press conference.
Minister De Jonge did not want to anticipate the measures that may be announced on Friday. “The stretch is completely gone in healthcare and the stretch is completely gone in society. That is why we should never take measures lightly, which always hurt somewhere.”