The Omicron variant was found for the first time in South Africa in the final days of November 2021. Afterward, it widely spread to western Europe, including the Netherlands. Although the omicron variant is less severe, it can still nonetheless cause fatalities. Meanwhile, this variant is hitting the windmill country agressively. There has been a surge of positive cases, with up to 32,000 on 9 January 2022. This has become the highest recorded case over the last three years since the first case of COVID-19 was found in 2019

            Before the Dutch government was tightened, the restriction known as hard lockdown started from 19 December 2021 to 14 January 2022, and today is the last day of hard lockdown. In this time, deaths were increasing and hospitalization was falling.  The mortality rate of the omicron variant increases while the death toll is currently 21,127. The health minister of The Netherlands, Ernst Kuipers, is uncertain  about loosening the lockdown after 14 January because the positive rates are still high nowadays. The Dutch government cannot make decisions as soon as they did last year, yet  the worst situation could happen. So this evening is the press conference about the next step after 14 January in hard lockdown.

            The press conference has updated the new measurements according to RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and Environment / Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu) data. The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte announced on Friday evening about the lockdown easing. The new measures, in brief:

  1. Visitors at home are maximum of four guests in their home.
  2. Essential shops such as supermarkets, pet shops, chemists, opticians, and wholesalers may open from 05:00 to 20:00.
  3. Restaurants, bars, and clubs will continue to be closed. Non-essential shops  can open until 5 PM.
  4. Advice to wear face masks in crowded places outside like shopping. The mask should be a disposable one, not from fabric.
  5. Higher education opens up again.
  6. Non spectators are allowed at sports competition of any level. To participate in Sport and cultural activities, must show a Coronapass.
  • How Dutch people react during a lockdown?

            Thousands of demonstrators in Amsterdam on 4 January 2022 defied a ban on assembling and demonstrated against the Dutch government’s coronavirus lockdown measures. They poured out the anger by putting the banner “Less repression, more care” in front of the Van Gogh Museum. Also, the signs about freedom and being under control were making the government upset. The latest protest was on 13 January, the demonstrations against the coronavirus measures were held in multiple cities. The participants marched through the streets of Utrecht, Sittard, Maastricht, Sneek, and Roermond, carrying lights like torches and lanterns and demanding that shops and restaurants be reopened, among other things. They expect the government to loose the lockdown as arousing the economic fields that would contribute during the pandemic. Also, people cannot navigate life by merely staying at home due to new variants appearing constantly, like the effects brought about by omicron.

  • How the Dutch government tackle the omicron wave instead of lifting the hard lockdown?

            They have announced the 3G system which means persons who recovered from COVID, fully vaccinated persons, or tested persons are admitted and applied at the workplace and on public transport. This system is used by the Dutch government because the 2G system as persons who recovered from COVID or fully vaccinated persons admitted applies in retail shops, at cultural and leisure facilities was under analysis. Hugo van Jonge as the Minister of Housing and Spatial Planning, reminds the government not to lift the lockdown too soon after 14 January as the hard lockdown was announced. Based on the real data that the positive rate are still rising, as well booster vaccination. The Dutch government will be extending the lockdown according to the data of cases based on the press conference.

  • How does vaccination work in the Netherlands?

           According to Anke Huckriede, professor of vaccinology at the University of Groningen, some 70-80% of the population needs to be vaccinated to obtain the holy grail of herd immunity. Previously, the Netherlands is one of the most vaccinated countries in the European Union  member states. Based on the RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and Environment / Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu), around 86.0% of people have been fully vaccinated, which means the Netherlands has reached the target of herd immunity. Also, the booster vaccinated population has reached 38% of the Dutch population. Practically, those who have been vaccinated could test positive for COVID-19 but the symptoms will be severe and there will be reduced transmission of the virus from one person to another. This is good news for every country to relieve the fatality rate. As we see, the Netherlands fatality rate is  seems quite low for the 17 million population.

       We only can assume what would happen during new measurement. Since many owners of hospitality fields did protest and they will reopen on Friday night and others said they would open on Saturday regardless of whether they are included in plans by the government to ease the country’s COVID-19 lockdown.

Reference

Comiteau, Lauren. “Why are so many people in the Netherlands opposed to a Covid vaccine?”. dutchnews.nl, 12/02/2021, https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2020/12/why-are-so-many-people-in-the-netherlands-opposed-to-a-covid-vaccine/

National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. “Efficacy and protection of the COVID-19 vaccine”. RIVM, 01/06/2022, https://www.rivm.nl/en/covid-19-vaccination/questions-and-background-information/efficacy-and-protection.

Rijksoverheid. “Covid-19 Vaccinations”. Rijksoverheid.nl, 14/06/2021, https://coronadashboard.government.nl/landelijk/vaccinaties

Associated Press. “Thousands Gather to Oppose Dutch Virus Measures Despite Ban”. USNews, 01/02/2022, https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-01-02/thousands-gather-in-amsterdam-despite-demonstration-ban

NL Times. “Dutch Cabinet puts plans for 2G Covid access policy on hold”. Nltimes, 01/06/2022, https://nltimes.nl/2021/12/06/dutch-cabinet-puts-plans-2g-covid-access-policy-hold

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