Policy responses for Netherlands - HSRM


Policy responses for Netherlands

6. Measures in other sectors

6.1 Measures in other sectors

Many MEASURES IN OTHER SECTORS beyond the immediate scope of the health system are being taken to prevent further spread of the virus. This section contains information on many of these areas, including border and travel restrictions and economic and fiscal measures, among others.

On 18 March, the Netherlands closed its borders to non-EU travellers that do not have an essential reason for their travel. Citizens of Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Lichtenstein are still allowed to travel.

As of 29 March, there are no areas in lock down. The situation is described as a targeted lock down: everyone should stay at home as much as they can.

There are no limitations on internal or external travel, but people are requested to limit their travels to essential travel only. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against holidays abroad. All countries over the world have been turned into code ‘orange’, which means that Dutch citizens are advised against all non-essential travel abroad (https://www.nederlandwereldwijd.nl/documenten/vragen-en-antwoorden/gevolgen-coronavirus-voor-reisplannen).

The government has announced that several billion euros will be available for support measures for the economy. These include:
• Wage support for companies that have at least 20% loss of revenue. Companies can apply for support of 90% of their total wages, depending on the severity of the loss in revenue. A requirement is that there are no job losses in the period for which support is asked for. Medium and small enterprises that have at least 30% loss of revenue are eligible for compensation up to 50.000 Euro from 1 June until 30 September (https://www.kvk.nl/corona/tvl-maximaal-50000-euro-per-4-maanden/).
• Independent entrepreneurs can receive an additional financial support to supplement their income up to the national social minimum, which is about EUR 1200 for single households and about EUR 1600 for families. This support does not have to be paid back and there is no means testing or partner income testing. A loan against reduced interest is also an option. From 1 June until 1 October, this support measure is extended with one difference: the income of the partner/spouse is now taken into account for assessing eligibility (https://www.kvk.nl/corona/noodpakket-2-nieuwe-regelingen-per-juni/).
• The guarantee fund for financing entrepreneurs will increase its funds for companies hit by the COVID-19 crisis. For some companies that have problems in paying interest and redemption on loans, redemption can be postponed and interest will be lowered to 2%.
• Some other measures, such as temporary abolishment of tourist tax and compensation for sectors that are compulsory closed, are still under development. (https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/actueel/nieuws/2020/03/17/coronavirus-kabinet-neemt-pakket-nieuwe-maatregelen-voor-banen-en-economie; https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/coronavirus-covid-19/veelgestelde-vragen-per-onderwerp/financiele-regelingen/algemene-vragen)
• The government extends coronavirus support for jobs and the economy to 30 June 2021 (the previous measures expired on 1 October). The measures are based on three pillars: support, help adapting to new circumstances and investment. The government will extend, but gradually reduce, protection of salaries.  For the self-employed, measures are extended and will include an assessment of available resources and help with career and career switches. Finally, the SME fixed costs grant scheme will be continued with a maximum of EUR 90,000 per business per three months, although this assistance will also be gradually reduced over time. This will give entrepreneurs time to adapt to the changing circumstances. (https://www.government.nl/topics/coronavirus-covid-19/news/2020/08/28/government-extends-coronavirus-support-for-jobs-and-the-economy-into-2021).

The military helps in re-allocating patients to other hospitals and assists in cases of shortages in care personnel. While teachers should implement online teaching for children at home, there is no special support from the government for this. In secondary care, most schools have now organized online teaching programs at least to some extent. The primary school sector is lagging a bit behind in this respect.

There is no state of emergency applicable for the Netherlands at this moment.

There is cross border collaboration with Germany. Germany has currently taken over a few COVID-19 patients from the Netherlands to relieve pressure on Dutch ICU capacity.

Numerous initiatives have been taken to keep people mentally and physically healthy when in (voluntary) isolation or having to stay at home otherwise, some of which have upgraded to the national level. To mention a few: experts of the NOC*NSF (National Olympic Committee*Netherlands Sports Federation) and partners have developed guidelines for keeping mentally and physically well (https://nocnsf.nl/nieuws/2020/03/sport-en-beweegadviezen-in-tijden-van-het-coronavirus; https://nocnsf.nl/nieuws/2020/03/vijf-adviezen-om-te-kunnen-omgaan-met-de-psychologische-impact-van-de-coronacrisis (also available in English)). Free spoken books available at some public libraries for members and non-members. University students and other volunteers offer shopping services or walking pets for people who are in quarantine. The website www.nlvoorelkaar.nl has been developed to coordinate the offers for help and requests for help.

In 2019, the oak processionary caterpillar was considered a plague in the Netherlands, causing many people to visit health care providers as a result of itching due to caterpillar hairs. This year, to combat the caterpillar, gardeners had planned to vacuum the caterpillars from the trees. This will be problematic because the gardeners need protective garments, that are currently not or only limitedly available. (https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2020/04/02/bestrijding-van-eikenprocessierups-in-de-knel-door-dreigend-tekort-beschermende-pakken-a3995624).

Also as of 7 August, restaurants, cafes and bars should start registering their visitors in order to facilitate contact tracing in the case of a local outbreak.

To give the coronavirus measures a legal basis, an Act (the Corona Act) was sent to parliament on 13 July, 2020. This Act should replace the emergency measures that have been regulating the policies around the coronavirus, since the emergency measures are meant to regulate a crisis for a short period of time. The Act should have a validity of six months, with the option to extend this by three months. New measures should be approved by parliament before they can be implemented. The Act has been open for consultation among a wide range of stakeholders. As a result of this consultation, for instance, the initial plan to enable enforcement of measures “behind the front door” (in the homes of people) was deleted. (https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/actueel/nieuws/2020/07/13/coronawet-ingediend-bij-tweede-kamer ).The Act will be discussed in parliament after the summer break.

As a result of the high number of infections among mink breeding farms, these farms will be required to stop operations after the harvesting period of November. A compensation scheme will be in place for the farmers. The ban on mink breeding farms was originally scheduled for 2024.