Netherlands present roadmap for relaxing COVID measures amid chaos

A mother puts a mask on her son at the busy street of Amsterdam, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, Netherlands

The Dutch government has presented a roadmap for relaxing coronavirus lockdown measures, but caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte is stressing that it is still too early to ease restrictions.

In a nationally televised press conference Tuesday, Rutte said hospitals in the Netherlands are as crowded with COVID-19 patients now as they were during the first wave of the pandemic last year and that it would be irresponsible to relax the country’s months-long lockdown now.

The government had previously said it hoped the first relaxation could have started April 21, but Rutte said that was too soon.

Earlier Tuesday, the Dutch public health institute said the number of new coronavirus infections rose 6% over the past week to 51,240, with the largest increase in positive tests recorded among children aged 13-17 years.

The increase comes despite the months-long tough lockdown in the Netherlands including a nighttime curfew, closed bars and restaurants and shuttered public institutions like museums and zoos.

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