People can visit non-essential shops, hairdressers and other contact professions again by appointment from Saturday, RTL Nieuws and NOS report. The gyms will also reopen, but the hospitality and culture sectors are said to remain closed.

The government is basing its decision on new scenarios from the Outbreak Management Team. The omicron variant of the virus is less pathogenic than previously feared. The news about the relaxation will not be known for sure until Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister of Health Ernst Kuipers announce the measures at a press conference on Friday evening.

Burden

Student organisations, educational institutions and psychiatrists urged Wednesday to reopen higher education and vocational training. They pointed out the great emotional burden the lockdown puts on students. And Education Minister Dijkgraaf also announced that the reopening is high on the priority list.

It is not yet clear under what conditions and to what extent higher education will be allowed to reopen. On Monday, the OMT wrote that students and lecturers will have to wear medical masks when they will return to campus; not only when moving around the building, but also when they are sitting ‘at teaching sessions in larger groups’.

Face masks

In an interview published on Wednesday by Vox, the news medium of the Radboud University, OMT member Andreas Voss clarified that the face mask should also be worn during work groups and exams.

He also stated that the higher education sector should think carefully about the use of physical education: “Lectures with large groups could remain online, and tutor groups with a fixed composition could – at a distance and with good ventilation – be held physically.”

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