Mayors will not allow shops to reopen if lockdown is extended; Covid press conference tonight

The 25 mayors of the Security Council believe that respect for the rules in force on coronaviruses must always remain the example by which they lead by example, and that it is everyone’s responsibility to comply with these rules. This means that, in principle, hotel traders and entrepreneurs will not be allowed to open their businesses on Saturday unless the Cabinet relaxes these rules at Friday’s press conference.

The mayors of the Council gave their consent on Thursday evening, according to Hubert Bruls, chairman of the council and mayor of Nijmegen. Over the past few days, mayors of municipalities across the Netherlands have announced they will turn a blind eye to shops and catering establishments opening on Saturday as a form of peaceful protest against the strict lockdown. Entrepreneurs must therefore act in a safe and responsible manner.

The Security Council believes that everyone should play by the rules. “Although, of course, we cannot assess the local situation in Aalten or Leeuwarden, for example,” Bruls said. The Council recommended giving a warning to entrepreneurs who open their business against the rules. If that doesn’t help, then they can be fined. In extreme cases, the responsible mayor can force the company to close for a certain period of time, or even indefinitely. According to Bruls, the Cabinet and the Public Prosecutor approve this course of action for the municipality concerned.

The Security Council is seriously concerned about the welfare of society. The mayors have asked Justice Minister Dilan Yesilgoz for an outline of any lockdown relaxations expected from the Cabinet in the short term. “We hope the Cabinet will explain what is possible in the next four weeks and when, if not yet possible on Friday. Because relaxation really, really has to come.”

The new Cabinet is expected to announce that the strict lockdown will be eased somewhat at a press conference on Friday evening. It will be the first joint event for Prime Minister Mark Rutte and new Health Minister Ernst Kuipers.

As usual, the main points of Cabinet’s plans were leaked early, this time on Thursday. The Cabinet is expected to ease coronavirus rules allowing higher education students to return to class and the limited reopening of non-essential retail stores, nearby service professions and fitness centers from Saturday. The rules regarding sports participation may also be changed.

The government will take its final decision on the reduction of coronavirus measures at the first ordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers on Friday. Rutte and Kuipers will hold their press conference at 7 p.m.

This press conference will look different than in the past. Kuipers will use a video monitor to explain certain points with graphics and visual aids. Sign language interpreters will no longer be in the same room as ministers, but will instead be in a different room, viewable during picture-in-picture broadcasts.

About Octavia A. Dorr

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