THE HAGUE, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- Despite high infections, the Dutch government announced new relaxations of its COVID-19 policy on Tuesday, reopening all restaurants, cafes, cinemas, museums and theaters under certain conditions.
During a press conference in the Hague, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport Ernst Kuipers emphasized that they are taking a risk with these relaxations and that it remains important to continue to follow the basic rules.
"With the relaxations, we are consciously looking for the limits of what is possible," Rutte said. "We take a risk now. We do this because behind all understandable cries for help and actions are such major problems and tensions."
The measures will in principle apply for a period of six weeks from Wednesday morning. There will be a new weighing moment in about three weeks.
Restaurants, cafes, museums, concert halls and theaters can open their doors again from Wednesday between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. local time. The reopening is subject to conditions. For example, visitors must be able to show a valid coronavirus entry pass, a COVID-19 certificate with proof of vaccination or proof of recovery or a negative test result.
At sports events, the audience is allowed again, with a maximum of one-third of the capacity.
Until now, supermarkets and shops had to close at 8 p.m. local time, but from Wednesday the opening hours will be extended until 10 p.m.
"I appeal to everyone to ensure that the Netherlands can remain open," Rutte said. "That starts with compliance with the rules."
With Omicron being the dominant variant of the coronavirus in the country, the number of infections has risen explosively in recent weeks. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) on Tuesday reported a daily number of 54,225 confirmed COVID-19 infections, which is less than the previous two days: 65,351 and 64,757 on Sunday and Monday respectively.
Kuipers emphasized that the large number of infections at the moment makes it "more important than ever before to adhere to the basic rules against the coronavirus."