June 25, 2020 / 3:04 AM / 2 months ago

Dutch set to further ease coronavirus measures as infection rate drops

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch government announced a widespread easing of coronavirus lockdown measures on Wednesday that will allow outdoor gatherings, group restaurant visits and regular public transport services from July 1.

After the summer, soccer matches will be opened to the public, but crowds will have to adhere to social distancing rules and refrain from singing and yelling, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.

“If it happens anyhow they will be closed back down,” he said in a televised press conference. “If you sing loudly, the chance of spreading the virus increases.”

Face-to-face professions, including sex workers, will be allowed to open their doors next week, he said in a televised press conference.

The government announced the lifting of limits on the number of people allowed to gather in public places, as long as social distancing rules and health checks for visitors are in place.

That will make it possible to hold music festivals and theatre performances, as long as reservations are made online, everyone can be seated, and there is enough space for 1.5-meter social distancing, he said.

The Netherlands is among the European countries with the highest rate of coronavirus infections per capita, but the spread of the disease has slowed considerably in recent weeks.

On Wednesday 83 new coronavirus cases were confirmed, taking the total to 49,804. The death rate increased by two to 6,097.

Reporting by Bart Meijer; Writing by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Kirsten Donovan; Editing by Gareth Jones, Kirsten Donovan

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