It is unwise to open the terraces as early as April 21, because the current epidemiological situation is still too unstable. That is what several members of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) say in conversation with NU.nl.
“At the moment we have high numbers and overcrowded hospitals and purely from the medical side it is still a month too early”, says Andreas Voss, medical microbiologist at the Radboudumc in Nijmegen.
Virologist Marion Koopmans does not mention a period within which the corona measures can be further relaxed, but thinks it is still too early for that now. “I would not do that immediately at the first possible favorable signals, because then you will be back to square one in no time.”
On Wednesday, it was leaked that the cabinet wants to reopen the terraces on April 21. Curfew should also be abolished on that date. The plans will be presented to the OMT on Friday.
After a few weeks of sharp increases in infection figures, the RIVM reported a slight drop in the number of new positive tests on Tuesday. Despite this favorable trend, the number of hospital admissions is still increasing. Thursday there were almost eight hundred corona patients in intensive care (ic).
“The big problem is that people will also travel when the terraces open,” explains microbiologist Marc Bonten. “We really can’t use an uptick in infections and hospital admissions.”
“My mind is not on it. I spend all day looking for a free IC bed in the country. ”
Diederik Gommers, chairman NVIC
For Bonten, the call from mayors to open the terraces is therefore too early. “There is no possibility to scale up in hospitals. People in the wards in the hospital are shocked by this.”
Chairman of the Dutch Association for Intensive Care (NVIC) Diederik Gommers and microbiologist Menno de Jong join Bonten. “My mind is not on it. I spend all day looking for a free IC bed in the country,” says Gommers.
De Jong: “What you don’t want is that you open the terraces and say after three weeks: we will go into lockdown again anyway. As soon as possible, you have to relax very wise and gradually.”
OMT members do understand the urge to relax
Incidentally, the OMT members do understand the urge for relaxation. “These are quite difficult things, because we see that enforcement in society is becoming very difficult”, medical microbiologist Jan Kluytmans weighs up the various interests.
“We are also slowly looking a little less gloomy to the future. But it is still very shaky”, he continues. “When all the terraces open, hordes of people will move again. That also has risks. I really see it as the last mile, but you should not crow for victory too soon. It would be a shame if you do the wrong things just a little too soon. . “
Kluytmans also points to the worrying situation in hospitals. “The nursing is really gone. We notice that in everything. They say: I’m not going to give up the May holiday anymore.” According to him, it cannot be explained that the nursing staff has to work extra hours because the terraces are opened. “How do you explain that to people who have been experiencing a lot of pressure for a year?”
Crowds in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam.
‘With the opening of terraces, the crowds in parks will not disappear’
De Jong did not understand the mayors’ arguments either. “Of course it is the case that you can regulate the distance better on terraces, for example, than in parks. But I think it is a bit of a simplification that the crowds in the parks disappear completely. In non-COVID-19 times were up. a nice day the terraces and parks are also full. “
“It leads to more people outside and together and that has risks,” said De Jong. “There are many uncertainties, but one thing is certain: the more that is relaxed, the more infections there are.”