Social distancing ends in the Netherlands, replaced by COVID-19 health passes

Sep 15, 2021

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Declining COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates have led Dutch officials to lift social distancing requirements as it eyes a slow, careful return to pre-pandemic life, according to the Associated Press.

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From 25 September, people will no longer have to abide by the 1.5-metre (3 feet) social distance rule that has been in place for the past 18 months. Instead, however, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that businesses such as bars, nightclubs, restaurants and theatres, as well as events (think: festivals and concerts) must require COVID-19 passes for entry.

The digital health passes will be available to people who are 13 and older and are fully vaccinated, tested negative for COVID-19 less than 24 hours before entry or have can prove they have recovered from COVID-19. People 14 and older must also show their ID along with the COVID-19 health pass.

The new programme is in many ways similar to current regulations in France and New York City, the latter of which requires proof of vaccination for people 12 and older, with some exceptions.

Many people are upset by the COVID-19 health passes because they claim they just exist to force them to get inoculated. The Netherlands’ top health official says that is not the case.

“In neighbouring countries, you see that the COVID pass also has a positive effect on the vaccination level,” said Caretaker Health Minister Hugo de Jonge, according to the AP. “If that happens here, that is of course a plus.”

With these changes, Prime Minister Rutte said nightclubs will be allowed to reopen but will have to close by midnight. Before the pandemic, the Dutch nightlife scene was an all-night affair, with many venues open into the early hours of the morning.

 Featured image courtesy of SOPA Images for Getty Images

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