- Another 2,875 people in the Netherlands tested positive for the coronavirus infection, public health agency RIVM reported on Monday 15 February, well below the seven-day average figure of 3,469. Some GGD-sites canceled and rescheduled appointments for tests and COVID-19 vaccine injections which were set for Monday after weather service KNMI issued a Code Red warning for icy roads.An estimated 783,606 vaccine doses have been provided since 6 January. That figure was expected to rise to a million within about a week.
Figures set for release on Tuesday were expected to provide more clarity about how many of those injections were the second of a two-dose regimen. A week ago, the figure stood at 66,409. All three vaccines approved for use in Europe require two doses for full protection against the coronavirus disease.
New hospitalizations for COVID-19 between the afternoons of Sunday and Monday were over 17% below the moving average. Some 143 patients were admitted into regular care, and 22 others were placed into an intensive care unit.
That raised the current total of hospitalized patients to 1,922, a net increase of 3% after accounting for deaths and discharges. There were 1,386 patients in regular care, an increase of 57, and 536 in intensive care, an increase of six. The RIVM also said that it learned of 27 more COVID-19 deaths in the Netherlands, slightly more than a week ago, which raised the rolling average to 60.
- The coronavirus curfew implemented on 23 January must be scrapped with immediate effect, the court in The Hague ruled on Tuesday 16 February in a lawsuit filed by protest group Viruswaarheid, NOS and NU.nl report.The government implemented the curfew based on an emergency law, which states that the cabinet can introduce rules in an emergency without consultation with parliament and the Senate. But according to the court, the curfew was not for an emergency “as is the case with a dyke break”. The fact that there was no emergency situation is apparent from the fact that the introduction of the curfew was discussed before it was introduced, the court said.
“The judge took into account that there is a pandemic, that there is a virus that also mutates, and the great pressure on healthcare. It is a time of great worries and difficult decisions. But measures too, and especially far-reaching ones like the curfew, must be well based on law,” the spokesperson said.
Mark Rutte, the outgoing prime minister, asked the people of the Netherlands to continue to adhere to the curfew hours even if the country’s court system determines that the mandatory curfew contravenes Dutch law. “Suspending the measure would immediately have a grave impact on the fight against the coronavirus,” Rutte said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
“If the curfew was not based on the correct legal basis at this point, that does not mean that it is not necessary,” the prime minister stated. He said that curfew in effect daily from 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. is meant to cut down on the number of opportunities a person contagious with the coronavirus can pass it on to other people. He said the curfew is “a goal to keep the virus under control as much as possible.”
“We cannot legally enforce washing hands, and also not the guests’ rule,” Rutte said, referencing the limitation on daily visitors allowed in a home. “But we also have to adhere to that.”
The government appealed against the temporary order and asked the court to keep the curfew in place until the court of appeals ruled on it. Caretaker Justice and Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus, who attended the press conference with Rutte, said, “We are not appealing because it makes for an interesting legal discussion, but because we really think the measure is necessary.”
There will be a hearing on that request at 16:00 on Tuesday. The court case will be heard in full at a later date. The Dutch BOA Bond reported not to enforce the curfew until a concrete decision has been made. The association also wonders whether the previously issued fines are valid. “It may be that all fines will be reversed, but that is ultimately up to the judge.”
- On Monday 15 February, a large group of people gathered again for the first time since March last year to attend a pilot event: the first in a series of eight experiments to test the future of corona proof events. The was Jaarbeurs in Utrecht was filled with people who work in the event industry. Mona Keijzer, State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate, opened the day in the main hall.The experiments are organized by Fieldlab Events, an initiative of the events industry that is supported by the government. “We mainly look at the contact duration, the contact moments and the distance between people”, says Pieter Lubberts of Fieldlab.
The 500 visitors of the event had to show a negative PCR corona test upon arrival, underwent a temperature measurement and had to have themselves tested again in five days. At the event they were divided into three bubbles that do not touch each other: the green, blue and yellow bubble, which are different in size. The smallest consists of 50 people, the largest of 250, ” said Riemer Rijpkema of Fieldlab.
“Each bubble has a different set of measures. One bubble is in the room with splash screens, the other bubble underwent a rapid test before entry and does not wear a face mask. Everyone will have another PCR test within five days of the experiment. ”
After the event, scientists will work with the collected data and then submit it to the Outbreak Management Team (OMT). Subsequently, an advice is sent to the cabinet. Rijpkema expects the first results to be available in seven to eight weeks.
Over the next four weeks, experiments will follow with a cabaret show, football matches and music events. The central question: under what conditions can we safely organize events again? The date of all eight tests has now been set:
– 20 February: cabaret performance by Guido Weijers (500 visitors)
– 21 February: NEC-De Graafschap football match (1500 visitors)
– 28 February: football match Almere City FC-Cambuur Leeuwarden (1500 visitors)
– 6 March: dance event in Ziggo Dome (1300 visitors)
– 7 March: concert in Ziggo Dome (1300 visitors)
– 13 March: dance festival (outside) at Walibi Holland (1500 visitors)
– 14 March: pop festival (outside) at Walibi Holland (1500 visitors)
- The Dutch economy shrank by 3.8% last year, the largest contraction measured since the Second World War, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reported based on the currently available figures on Tuesday. In 2009, the first full year of the credit crisis, the economy shrank by 3.7%.The biggest blow to the economy happened in the second quarter of 2020, when the economy shrank an unprecedented -8.5%compared to the previous quarter. That was immediately followed by the largest growth ever measured at +7.8%. In the last quarter of the year, the economy stabilized, ultimately resulting in a full-year contraction of 3.8%.
The contraction is largely due to consumers spending considerably less, -6.6%compared to 2019. They spent less on the hospitality industry, travel, clothing, and cultural events – all sectors majorly impacted by the coronavirus and its accompanying lockdowns. Consumers spent more on food, home furnishings and electrical appliances.
The hospitality industry was hit hardest by the pandemic last year. The sector contributed 41% less to the economy than the year before. The culture, recreation, sports and other services sector contributed 24.5% less, due to festivals, sports matches and theater performances being canceled for most of the year.
The imports and exports of goods and services also contributed less to the economy, although this was relatively limited at -4.5% and -4.3% respectively. This was partly due to fewer foreign tourists visiting the Netherlands, and less trade in means of transport and oil products.
Notably, the lockdown introduced in the last quarter of 2020 did not have a major effect on the economy, the stats office said. Restaurants and bars had to close in October, followed by non-essential stores in mid-December. Although this had a major impact on the affected sectors, the economy as a whole shrank by only 0.1% compared to the previous quarter.
Statistics Netherlands stressed that these figures are based on the figures currently available, and added that the calculations are more uncertain than in other years due to the the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. The stats office will publish a second calculation on 26 March.
- Many retailers had to close their doors temporarily in 2020 and will continue to need to do so in 2021. Thankfully, online marketplaces gave companies the opportunity to continue to keep their businesses running. For software providers for these Dutch platforms, this means all hands on deck to make sure that online sales run smoothly, NU.nl reports.“In 2020 we had around 24,000 paying customers. Now it is more than 48,000”, Wouter Twisk from the software provider JouwWeb said to NU.nl. “At the same time, we see that online stores are making two or three times the amount of revenue because more orders are being placed.”
According to Twisk, the first increase was initially seen during the first wave. “But also afterward the number of requests was larger than usual, although it did slow down slightly.” When the second outbreak came, the number of customers rose again rapidly. “Now that on-site pick-up is possible again, there is even more demand.”
Not only JouwWeb, but also other service providers for web stores have noticed of the growing trend. “On the one hand, you have a group of people who are bored at home and start a webshop. On the other hand, many shops that were forced to close that did not have an online store at the time are now starting one,” Luuk van de Ruit from software provider, Shoppagina, says.
PostNL delivered a record number of packages at 337 million, more than 7% of which were attributed specifically due to the coronavirus crisis.
Reports from the payment system iDeal showed that 30% more transactions were completed on the platform in 2020 compared to 2019. Overall, 890 million transactions worth 70 billion euros were made in the past year.
Statistics from the Home Shopping Market Monitor showed that consumer spending and the number of online purchases shot up in the third quarter of 2020, similar to the same period a year prior. In total, online spending increased by 4% totaling 5.7 billion euros. The overall number of online purchases rose by 23% to 75.9 million.
Danny de Pee from software provider, Mijnwebwinkel, reported three to four times more customers than usual. De Pee also said that clients are spending nearly double the amount compared to prior the coronavirus crisis.
He expects the number of customers to continue to rise. “My prediction is that it will stay this busy in the coming months. I think we can speak here of a trend. Consumer behavior has changed during the pandemic. The threshold for buying online has become much easier to cross. It’s like working from home: we’ll continue to do that when this is over.”