The fight against the coronavirus appears to be heading in the right direction in the Netherlands. Fewer people are falling ill, and fewer people are being admitted to IC units. This being the case, the Prime Minister announced last night that the lockdown restrictions will be eased further. Slowly and gradually, people will be allowed to resume their normal lives.
Higher education institutions will be allowed to teach some of their classes on campus again, as promised earlier. However, the majority of classes will continue to be taught online for the time being. Students are only allowed to come to campus if there is no valid alternative – for instance to attend practicals.
Those classes and exams that must be taught or administered on campus must take place between 11am and 3pm or after 8pm, so that students can travel to the campus outside the rush hours. However, according to the government’s website, exceptions will be made in some cases.
The latter statement appears to be a helping hand to the people in charge of the Dutch tertiary education institutions, several of whom have criticised the Cabinet’s plans. For instance, Geert ten Dam, the President of the University of Amsterdam’s Executive Board, stated last weekend that the restrictions would have unfortunate consequences. Not many students will be allowed inside the university’s buildings to begin with. Forcing those students to get a late start and call it a day early will not exactly make things any easier.
There is one option that might help. Universities could schedule their classes and exams in such a way that they will start before 3pm and finish after 8pm, which would allow students to avoid commuting during the rush hours. Scheduling things in this way might help education institutions to fit in more classes.
It should be noted that face masks (not necessarily medical grade) will be mandatory on public transport in the Netherlands, effective 1 June. If you don’t wear a mask, you may be fined €95.
What with the weather being so lovely, you may also be interested to learn that cafés and restaurants will be allowed to reopen their outdoor seating areas on 1 June. People who share the same household will not be required to observe the 1.5-metre-distance rule.
That said, it should probably be pointed out here that students who share the same house or flat are not considered a single household. Students have already been fined for things such as having a picnic on the lawn near their student house with their flatmates.
The Prime Minister emphasised last night that the general coronavirus rules will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. People should continue to keep their distance from each other (at least 1.5 metres), wash their hands often and thoroughly, use paper tissues and cough/sneeze into their elbows. Also, people who have a cold should stay at home.