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 2020, 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 2020, 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).
As of 15 December, a negative test for airline passengers entering the Netherlands from the UK and South Africa is compulsory. Travellers are strongly recommended to go into quarantine for 10 days. This measure was taken to prevent the spread of the more contagious variants of the viruses that were detected in these countries.
As of 29 December, the negative test and advice for quarantine is extended to all airline passengers who enter the Netherlands. This also applies to other EU citizens and to Dutch citizens that return home from abroad. The government is studying on how to impose this regulation on other forms of public transportation, such as train, ship, or bus.
As of 23 January 2021, international passenger flights from the UK, South Africa and South America are prohibited. Additionally, passengers are no longer allowed to enter the Netherlands by ferry. An exemption is made for truck drivers, provided that they can show a negative antigen test not older than 24 hours when entering the ferry. Air freight and flights or ferries repatriating EU inhabitants are exempted from these measures. (https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/coronavirus-covid-19/reizen-en-vakantie/vliegverbod-en-aanmeerverbod)
As of 16 March, travel into the country is allowed again for the following groups: business travellers, students, highly-educated migrants, persons from the creative and cultural sector and long-distance lovers.
In 2020, 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).
At the beginning of 2021, the state aid has broadened considerably. The most important are:
• When turnover loss exceeds 30% for the first two quarters of 2021, the government will subsidize 85% of fixed costs. The former requirement of a maximum of 250 employees has been abolished, so larger companies can now also apply for the aid. The maximum amount for the aid has increased from 90.000 euro to 330.000 euro for small and medium enterprises and 400.000 for large enterprises. The minimum amount has increased from 750 euro to 1500 euro.
• The compensation for unsold stock of retailers has increased and is also valid for the first quarter of 2021.
• The subsidy for employees has increased from 80% to 85% of the total amount of salaries.
• The support for independent entrepreneurs whose income as a result of the coronavirus measures has become less than the social minimum will continue after 1 April 2021 and an initially planned means test has been abolished.
• A guarantee fund has been installed for companies organizing events, in order to enable them to start planning and organising events from 1 July 2021.
• Deferral of taxation has been extended to 1 July 2021. Repayment should start on 1 October 2021 and can be paid in 36 monthly instalments. If necessary, under certain conditions, debts may be waived. (https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/actueel/nieuws/2021/01/21/forse-uitbreiding-steun--en-herstelpakket)
Students from vocational or higher education who have experienced a study delay due to the coronavirus measures and who obtain their diploma between February 2021 and August 2021 or whose right on study support has ended will receive a partial compensation of the study cost. (https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/actueel/nieuws/2021/01/21/forse-uitbreiding-steun--en-herstelpakket)
In the second quarter of 2021, the government increased the financial support for businesses that had to close (or partly close) and suffered a loss in turnover of more than 30%. The reimbursement for fixed costs have increased from 85% to 100%. This was deemed necessary because many entrepreneurs have spent all their reserves.
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 was no state of emergency applicable for the Netherlands in 2020.
As of 1 January 2021, people who cannot pay their housing costs due to the coronavirus can apply for financial support (TONK: temporary support for essential costs). The measure is carried out by municipalities, who have some freedom in deciding for which groups the measure will apply.
Cross border collaboration
There is cross border collaboration with Germany. Germany has taken over a few COVID-19 patients from the Netherlands to relieve pressure on Dutch ICU capacity during the first wave in spring 2020 and again in the second wave in December 2020.
In May-June 2020 the central exams of secondary schools did not take place. Students were evaluated based on the results of their school exams, for which additional time and more resit exams were organized.
For those who are in their final year in 2021, exams do take place, but evaluation will be less strict than before because of the possible learning deficit as a result of the school closures. The rules for English, Dutch and Mathematics stay the same, but for the other subjects, one subject for which the student failed does not count for the end result.
Children in the last year of their primary care education normally receive a recommendation for the type of secondary school, based on both the advice of the teacher and a standardized test. In 2020 the standardized test was discarded and school advice appeared on average lower compared to previous years. In 2021, the test will take place, which will hopefully lead to a more balanced school choice.
A budget of 8.5 billion EUR is reserved to restore deficits for all levels of education, of which 6 billion is dedicated for primary and secondary education.
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.