SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Primary schools and childcare centres can open again on February 8, government coronavirus experts say in their latest recommendations to the cabinet, ahead of Sunday’s key meeting.
Nevertheless, the Outbreak Management Team’s new advice does say that relaxing the rules carries risks in the form of hospital and IC admissions, broadcaster NOS said on Saturday, quoting the leaked document.
In addition, a number of team members oppose opening schools, NOS said, even though a majority recognise that there is demand for ‘perspective and some relaxation’ of the regulations.
Secondary schools and after school clubs will remain shut, the broadcaster said. Schools closed for the second time during the pandemic in mid-December. Prime minister Mark Rutte said on Friday that the government’s priority is to reopen primary schools, if the OMT is convinced that the more infectious variant of coronavirus now in the Netherlands is not spread more quickly by children.
The new recommendation do not include other changes to the current rules, and the OMT says the situation is ‘vulnerable’. The curfew introduced a week ago is due to be lifted on February 9, and that measure will also be discussed on Sunday.
The first results of the major investigation in the village of Lansingerland, were the ‘British’ variant of coronavirus was found at a primary school, show that children are not the main motor of spreading the virus as feared, NOS said.
In total, 63% of the village’s residents took part in a mass testing programme and 1.1% tested positive. Of them, 5.6% had the new variant of coronavirus, which is in line with national results.
The public health institute RIVM registered 4,211 positive tests in the 24 hours to Saturday morning, again below the average of the past seven days. Rutte and health minister Hugo de Jonge are due to give a press conference outlining any changes on Tuesday.