Rutte Convenes Urgent Meeting on Condemnatory Coronavirus Figures; Possibility of press conference

Cabinet members will meet on Sunday for an emergency consultation on the rising coronavirus numbers in the Netherlands. News of the meeting at Catshuis, the prime minister’s official residence, unexpectedly leaked around 11 a.m., about an hour after the RIVM public health agency began tabulating the number of new infections determined during the previous period of 24 hours.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge are likely to address the nation again on the situation during a prime-time press conference on Tuesday. No specific reports have emerged of a tightening of coronavirus restrictions, however, during the previous press conference the two ministers clearly stated that if the data deteriorated, the cabinet could introduce new measures to reduce the number of new infections. Rutte reiterated this during a debate with Parliament earlier in the week, warning that there could be additional measures for the Christmas period.

The Catshuis meeting reverses what Deputy Prime Minister Kajsa Ollongren stated on Friday, when she indicated that there was no Catshuis meeting planned this weekend, and said that cabinet members would meet next to discuss the status of the pandemic. after the weekend. Ollongren said, “The next moment we will be together in the sense of decision making will be next Tuesday. Then there will be another cabinet meeting on Friday. So there is still the possibility of getting back together the following Tuesday. Therefore, whatever is necessary will be done. And if we have to do it quickly, we will do it quickly, and if we have to do it at recess, we will do it at recess ”.

The meeting will include ministers who are most involved in addressing the crown crisis. Experts such as the director of the RIVM Public Health Agency, Jaap van Dissel, will also be present. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 am.

The moving average for the number of new coronavirus infections has increased daily since December 2. On Friday, the RIVM reported nearly 8,900 new cases, about 3,000 more than the previous week.

In reaction to the new numbers, Ollongren described the situation as “worrying”. There have been discussions of additional measures to combat the virus or even a complete lockdown. “What we do, of course, is mainly analyze why it is not possible to reduce the numbers. So what can we improve within the current partial lockdown to ensure that people have less contact with each other? “, Said.

In Germany, calls for stricter measures are increasing as coronavirus cases have skyrocketed. This could also affect Dutch decision-making. “We hear that the Germans are talking about this, which is also relevant for the Netherlands because we have a border with Germany. We can also face border problems if the rules are different from ours. So, without a doubt, we have to take that into account and analyze it, ”said Ollongren, who serves in the Cabinet as Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.

He also reiterated the words of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, saying that “we cannot rule out the possibility that we will have to take additional measures. But we haven’t made that decision yet. “

In an interview published Saturday morning, Diederik Gommers, director of the Dutch Association for Intensive Care (NVIC), criticized the government for its slow reactions. “On Sunday, at the Catshuis, there will be a consultation again, and then it should take until Tuesday until a decision is made, which will take effect later,” he said.