AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The Netherlands is considering restricting travel to and from its biggest cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, as part of a raft of measures to counter a second wave of coronavirus infections, broadcaster NOS reported on Monday.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday he was considering further “regional” measures as the country’s COVID-19 outbreak rises from low levels in late August to above 2,500 cases a day, more than at the peak of the first wave in April.
Rutte has rejected the idea of a second lockdown or making face masks mandatory.
The NOS cited a list of measures it had obtained that are under serious consideration, though not all may be adopted. Rutte is to address the nation later on Monday.
The measures include strengthening current “work at home” guidelines, possibly shutting down offices that are allowing in too many non-essential staff, according to the NOS report. Bars and restaurants could be ordered to shut by 10 p.m., fans banned from sports events, and gatherings further limited than they already are, including in personal homes.
The National Institute for Health (RIVM) on Monday reported 2,914 new cases, just shy of Sunday’s all-time record of 2,995. Hospitalisations and deaths are at a much lower rate than in April, but the head of the country’s intensive care units warned that non-essential procedures will be delayed to make way for COVID-19 patients again starting this weekend.
Dutch coronavirus policy centres on keeping distance between people. Schools remain open and masks are not required except on public transport.
Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Catherine Evans and Nick Macfie