The Dutch government plans to accelerate its lockdown exit strategy by moving forward with steps four and five of its plan on Saturday, June 26, government sources told broadcasters NOS and RTL Nieuws on Monday. The decision will expand the opening hours for hospitality businesses and performance venues, and will increase the number of people allowed at these locations to 100.
The decision was made as the Netherlands continues to increase the speed people can get vaccinated against Covid-19, with hospitalization and infection figures down to levels not seen since last September. By enacting step five of the six-step plan on June 26, the Netherlands will be bringing forward their time table by nearly four weeks. It had been rumored that the two steps would be taken together on June 30.
The Cabinet does not yet intend to do away with the face mask obligation, social distancing rules, and telling people to remain home if they have symptoms that suggest they could have Covid-19. All coronavirus restrictions will be released and life will return back to normal once 85 percent of the eligible population has received their first shot of a Covid-19 vaccine, and the Covid-19 hospital patient total falls steeply.
Enacting step five of the plan means households can welcome up to eight visitors per day, where the current limit is four. The maximum number of people allowed in a rooms and meeting spaces will likely expand to 100. Cultural institutions, museums, and other indoor venues will be permitted to allow entrance to more people. Hospitality business will be allowed to remain open until midnight. Amateur sports competitions will again be allowed for players of all ages.
Originally, the two steps also included plans to permit a greater number of events and festivals with more audience members. The Cabinet already announced on Friday their plans to allow more events at 100 percent capacity if organizers restrict admission to people who tested negative for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection within 40 hours of entrance, and those who have proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Behind closed doors two weeks ago, Cabinet members were already expressing their desire to abandon most coronavirus lockdown restrictions by the end of June.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge unveiled the six-step lockdown exit strategy on April 13. The plan was largely based on an expectation that all adult residents would have had the opportunity to receive at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine by the start of July.