Yesterday evening, during the latest corona press conference, we heard prime-minister Mark Rutte and health minister Hugo de Jonge explain that although the number of infections and the number of corona patients in hospitals are decreasing slowly, the mutation from the UK is taking over.
Currently, about two-thirds of all infections are caused by the British mutation. New scientific research has shown that the British mutation is 1.5 times more contagious than the ‘classic’ version. The R-number (the number of people that one infected person will pass on the virus to) of the classic version is currently at 0.85. However, the R-number of the British mutation lies at 1.3. This means the number of infections doubles each week.
For these reasons, there is a serious risk of a 3rd wave.
The government is now struggling between prioritizing the risks of learning delays to economic damages and the pressure on the health care system.
The conclusion has been that the lockdown will be extended until March 2nd.
More and more children are struggling on an academic, mental and/or social level from the current lockdown and other corona measures. And following the lessons at school with their teachers and classmates is the best way to prevent from further delays and social isolation. Also, many parents (including myself!) are longing for some breathing space and uninterrupted working time.
On the advice of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT), it has been decided that next week Monday (February 8th) the primary schools, special needs schools and daycare organizations (KDV) are allowed to open again.
This is not without risks, so there will be even stricter rules: when one child tests positive, the entire class plus the teacher have to quarantine. They can take a test on day 5 and if negative, they may go back to school. Teachers and child minders at day care facilities will get priority for a corona (speed) test.
Additional rules will be announced tomorrow on www.rijksoverheid.nl (in Dutch) and www.government.nl/topics/coronavirus-covid-19 (in English).
Some things previously mentioned in the media were: more strictly staggered drop off and pick up times, face masks in the hallways for pupils of groups 7 & 8, and speed tests for teachers. These additional measures haven’t been confirmed yet, though.
When the primary schools were still open, the number of infected teachers and teaching assistants was relatively small. And new national and international research shows that children play a small role in spreading the virus. This also applies to the British mutation.
After-school care (BSO) stays closed because here children from different schools and classes come together. This is still too risky.
The emergency care at after-school care facilities may stay open for children whose parents have essential jobs, and for ‘vulnerable’ children who cannot stay home, for whatever reason.
Secondary schools and universities will have to stay closed until further notice, at least until March 1st. When they re-open, the students will have to keep 1.5 meters distance to each other and wear face masks in the common areas.
Secondary schools are open for students who have to take exams and for those who cannot study from home.
Primary schools get two weeks extra (until 15 March) to register the secondary school advice of their group 8 pupils.
Secondary schools and universities have promised to be more lenient in terms of the application procedure for new students for next school year.
Parents shouldn’t use the re-opening of the primary schools as a reason to go back to the office again. Everyone should still work from home as much as possible. Still a lot of positive cases originate at work.
Digital open days – primary schools Amsterdam
With very short notice, the municipality has announced they are going to organize a digital open day for the primary schools in Amsterdam – on Wednesday, February 3rd, from 9.30 am to 12.00 pm. This is the first time they do this, because you cannot visit the schools in person right now.
You can find more info and sign up here.
Shops will stay closed, but from 10 February, you can order your products online or by phone and pick them up at least four hours later in person, outside of the store. You may not enter the store.
They haven’t taken any decisions about a possible extension of the curfew yet. First the results of the past weeks have to be analyzed. If nothing happens, the curfew will automatically end in the morning of February 10th.
During the curfew from 9 pm to 4:30 am, you may only be outside if you have a valid reason (for example, going to work as a police officer, paramedic, or nurse), (medical) emergencies, assisting someone in need, walking your dog, and necessary travel).
People aged 12+ may still only receive one guest per day at their homes. You should not visit more than one other household per day either. You may only go outside with members of your household, on your own or with 1 other person. This also applies to outdoor sports activities.
Children aged 17 and under may take part in team sports and play matches against children at the same club, but only outdoors.
You are advised to use public transport for essential travel only, to not travel abroad, and not to book trips abroad until 31 March. Further travel restrictions apply.
It is expected that at some point in the 2nd quarter of 2021, there will be enough people vaccinated to loosen the measures. It depends on how many people will be vaccinated by then and how effectively the current vaccines will protect against to various mutations that go around. The Netherlands seems to have caught up with the previous delay in administering the vaccines.
The availability of the vaccines also plays a huge role. The current supplies are more limited than anticipated. There is still a lot of uncertainty in this respect.
There will be a new press conference on Tuesday, February 23rd.
Do you have further questions or do you need mental, financial or practical support? You can find a lot of references and informations in English on the website of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).