Netherlands drops last remaining coronavirus measures today

Over two years after the outbreak of the coronavirus in the Netherlands, the country is dropping all its remaining restrictions on Wednesday (today).

From today, people will no longer have to get tested for Covid-19 before they can get access to a large event or a big nightclub. The obligation to wear a face mask on public transport and the recommendation to telework are also dropped.

"Coronavirus infections have risen again in recent weeks, but the current virus variant is less pathogenic and the number of people admitted to the ICU is limited," the Government said in a press release.

There will be no more locations where the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) applies, but the Government still advises people not to delete the app from their phones. "A valid QR code is still necessary for travel or for visits to restaurants, cinemas or theatres in several countries, for example."

However, people entering the Netherlands from other EU countries will no longer need to have a QR code to show that they are vaccinated, recently tested negative or recovered from an infection. This also applies to countries that are not part of the EU, but are part of the Schengen area: Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

The situation in Belgium

While the country has not set a date to assess the epidemiological situation, the authorities stress that the situation is being monitored closely.

The Government stressed that people who have symptoms should still stay at home and get tested. In general, the authorities call on the population to show consideration for each other and, for example, to keep their distance if someone asks for it.

In Belgium, nearly all measures were lifted when the country moved into 'code yellow' in early March, but the face mask obligation on public transport remains in force for the time being. The next Consultative Committee to assess the current situation was initially set to take place this Friday (25 March), but was postponed to the second half of April, after the Easter holidays.

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On Tuesday, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke warned that the pandemic "is not over yet," as chair of the GEMS group Erika Vlieghe said that the measures should have been "lifted more incrementally" and Belgium "should have stayed in code orange a little longer."

In particular, she stressed that the disappearance of the face mask obligation nearly everywhere under code yellow was "very unfortunate," as they "did have an effect."

In the meantime, the regional director of WHO Europe Hans Kluge warned in a press conference earlier this week that several European countries, including Germany, France, Italy and the UK, lifted their measures "too brutally."

Kluge said he was "vigilant" about the current state of the epidemic in Europe, but added that at the same time he remained "optimistic."

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