Wearing a face mask will be mandatory again in public indoor places in the Netherlands as the government announced several new measures to fight COVID-19 amid rising infections over the past few weeks.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told a press conference here that face mask use will now apply to all publicly accessible indoor spaces, including libraries, town halls, supermarkets, shops, train stations and parts of hospitals and universities.
The requirement of a “corona pass” that has been mandatory for access to restaurants, cafes, theaters and stadiums, will be extended to museums, zoos, amusement parks, gyms, swimming pools, terraces and sports events outside and indoors.
The “corona pass” can be a negative COVID-19 test result, a proof of vaccination or a proof of recovery.
The new measures will come into effect on Saturday.
“Once again a difficult message, now that the infection figures and hospital admissions are increasing,” Rutte said. “It remains difficult because everything about corona leads to more and more discussion in society.”
“There should be no dichotomy. Understandably, we struggle with it, just like people in countries around us. The longer it takes, the more complicated it becomes to follow rules,” he said.
“Our own behavior remains crucial,” said Rutte. “The most important thing is to stay at home if you have complaints, wash your hands often and cough into the elbow. We also urgently advise again to keep a 1.5-meter distance, to work from home and to avoid crowded places.”
Speaking at the press conference, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge once again made an appeal to people who have not been vaccinated.
De Jonge also announced the start of booster vaccination in December for all people aged 80 and older. A booster shot will also be offered to all adult residents over the age of 18 who live in a care institution with their own medical service.
Next month, a booster shot will also be offered to healthcare employees with direct patient contact. From January 2022 onwards, people between the ages of 60 and 80, will also get a booster shot.
The Dutch government had relaxed the measures against the spread of COVID-19 by the end of September. Since then, face masks were only mandatory on airplanes, trains, buses, trams and metros, in taxis and at airports.
Despite the fact that around 85 percent of all Dutch people aged 12 years and older are currently vaccinated against COVID-19, new infections are on the rise.
In its latest weekly update, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) reported that the number of new hospitalized patients with COVID-19 from Oct. 27 to Nov. 2 increased to 834, 31 percent more than the week before. A total of 140 new patients were admitted to ICUs, 20 percent more than the week before.
During the period, 53,979 people with a positive COVID-19 test were reported, up 39 percent week-on-week.