Netherlands end nighttime curfew despite 2% increase in new Covid cases
The three-month nighttime coronavirus curfew, which has led to riots, court challenges and emergency legislation, finally ended in the Netherlands at 4.30am on Wednesday – despite pressure ceaseless on hospitals and an erratic vaccination program.
Another 2% increase in the number of new cases in the week to Tuesday underscored the fragility of a situation in which crowds had to be dispersed by police in Amsterdam and other major cities celebrating the annual public holiday on Tuesday. King’s Day, just hours before the final 10 p.m. curfew went into effect.
The interim government decided to ease some restrictions against the advice of its own panel of experts, some of whom expressed concern over Tuesday’s parties, which led to crowded streets, parks and canals filled with boats. pleasure craft, with few signs of masks or social distancing.
Leading virologist Marion Koopmans, a member of the government epidemic management team, said the rallies were “worrying” because, in terms of fighting the virus, “we’re really not there yet.” Alma Tostmann, an epidemiologist, said looking at the pictures made her “stomach ache”.
In Amsterdam, where riot police were deployed and more than 50 people arrested, a union representative of city managers, whose job it is to issue fines, said: “It was as if the coronavirus didn’t exist . “
Along with the end of the curfew, outdoor restaurants can now reopen from noon to 6 p.m. with a maximum of 50 customers, households can have two guests per day instead of one, and funerals can have up to to 100 mourners – although a ban on the sale of alcohol after 8 p.m. remains.
The official advice against overseas travel until May 15 at the earliest also remains in place, although pressure on the government to clarify how it plans to categorize the risk of summer vacations in the foreigner continues to increase.
Despite the easing of restrictions and the public’s appetite for more, the public health institute RIVM said the number of hospitalized Covid patients rose to 2,611 on Wednesday, including 814 in intensive care – the 12th consecutive day that the le number has exceeded 800.
The government’s problems with a dysfunctional vaccination program also worsened on Wednesday.
Although its dashboard shows that 5.3 million people have been vaccinated, it turned out that the computerized recording system only includes about 70% of the total, making it impossible to calculate the total or assess. from the program.
Responding to a separate suggestion that “millions of doses” of AstraZeneca could be left unused, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said he had asked if the 60-64 age group for the vaccine could be left unused. be widened and the gap between the two injections narrowed, to speed up the program.