NL: Cabinet close to dropping curfew, reopening terraces on April 28; Press Conf. on Tuesday

THE HAGUE - The curfew in the Netherlands will be dropped on April 28, and cafe terraces will be allowed to reopen within certain limits, government sources told NOS. The terraces will likely have to close by 6 p.m., even if the mandatory nightly curfew is eliminated.

Health Minister Hugo de Jonge confirmed that there will be a press conference to update the country on coronavirus policy on Tuesday evening. It is during the press conference that the announcement about the curfew and cafe terraces will be made, NOS reported.

It was still questionable if the number of visitors allowed to enter a home will expand to two people per day, or if non-essential retail stores will be allowed to open more freely. Anonymous sources already told De Telegraaf, ANP and NOS on Sunday that the Cabinet was “slightly more positive” about loosening at least some restrictions.

At the same time, the average number of daily coronavirus infections in the Netherlands approached 7,700 on Monday, after four straight days where between eight and nine thousand new infections were reported. Additionally, daily Covid-19 hospitalizations remained at or near a third wave peak set over the past two months, with the currently admitted ICU total above 800 for the first time in a year.

Despite that, the Cabinet is poised to press forward with at least part of its new six-step plan to get the Netherlands out of lockdown. Part of their rationale is that hospital occupancy, while high, has not shown a steady increase in figures in about a week.

Also, another the RIVM estimates that another 1.2 million Covid-19 vaccine doses will be put to use by April 28. Last week the RIVM revised their vaccination figures up 19 percent higher for the past three months than was previously estimated. Nearly 4.5 million vaccine doses have been administered through Saturday

Mayors of the four largest cities in the Netherlands advocated last week to reopen terraces as soon as possible. They believe that as the weather warms up, large crowds will be drawn to parks and other public spaces.

Rutte disputed during his last press conference. He said that even if terraces are open, people will want to flock to the Vondelpark in Amsterdam.

Bars, cafes and restaurants in the Netherlands have been mainly closed since October 14, though they have been allowed to serve takeaway customers. In March, Rutte said their terraces would likely be able to reopen on April 21, which was subsequently pushed back. The curfew was launched on January 25.

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