Dutch PM relaxes the use of masks

UMMATIMES - The use of masks will largely no longer be required in the Netherlands. Other Covid-19 restrictions will also be eased starting next week, following a decline in cases.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte, quoted Saturday (19/6), said most of the capacity restrictions will also be removed from 26 June. The condition is, as long as the public can maintain a distance of at least 1.5 meters, he said during a press conference.

"This is a special moment," said Rutte. "Often I stand here telling you what you can't do. But now we can focus on what is possible."

No new limits have been set for the number of guests in shops, bars and restaurants, Rutte said, as long as they can maintain a safe distance, or show that they have been vaccinated or test negative. "We can expect a beautiful summer", he said.

"But we still need to be vigilant. There is a lot of uncertainty ahead of the fall. You could be stabbed in the back by a new variant at any moment."

People still need to wear masks on public transport and at airports, where social distancing is not possible. Covid-19 infections in the Netherlands hit a nine-month low in recent days as vaccination rates accelerated.

In early June authorities allowed bars and restaurants to resume operations. As of Friday about 13 million doses of the vaccine had been administered in the country of 17.5 million people.

The government says it is planning to inject every adult in the Netherlands with at least one dose of the vaccine by mid-July. Nearly 1.7 million Covid-19 infections have been recorded in the Netherlands, with more than 27,000 deaths.