Even if you want to go Dutch on your next vacation, you may not want to go to the Netherlands right now.
On Monday, the Netherlands was one of four destinations brought to level 4 on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Covid-19 Travel Recommendations. The other three were Luxembourg, the Cayman Islands and the Faroe Islands.
As I covered last week for ForbesLevel 4 is the highest of the CDC’s four Covid-19 risk levels. When it comes to such levels of risk, such as golf scores and the number of times you get punched in the face with a baguette, higher is worse.
A destination moves from level 3 to level 4 when the number of reported Covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the past 28 days moves from the range of 100 to 500 to the range of more than 500. Level 4 versus Level 3 means the Covid-19 risk is “very high” versus just “high”. It also means that the CDC advises that all U.S. residents avoid non-essential travel there rather than just those who have not been vaccinated. After all, when people tell you to take risks in your career, they don’t mean the risk of getting infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus.
The Netherlands’ move to Level 4 is about as surprising as a fight on a reality TV show. In June, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had apparently predicted “a beautiful summer” after lifting many Covid-19 precautions, such as the requirements for face masks. That following month turned out to be a good month for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), as Covid-19 cases subsequently surged. The Netherlands then essentially said, “Amsterdam, that escalated quickly,” and quickly re-imposed Covid-19 precautions. The number of daily reported Covid-19 cases then declined in late July and through August.
In September, the Dutch again said goodbye to most social distancing measures. Take a wild guess at what happened next. The Netherlands essentially became another Dutch oven for more and more SARS-CoV-2 transmission. The number of new reported Covid-19 cases per day has risen from less than 2,000 at the end of September to more than 10,000 recently.
That is why the Dutch government decided last Tuesday to introduce stricter precautions. This included mandating the use of face masks and extending it where the “corona pass” was required. While the “corona pass” may sound like a flirtatious move involving beer, in the Netherlands it’s actually proof that you’ve had either Covid-19 vaccination or a recent negative Covid-19 coronavirus test. The following FRANCE24 news segment from last week described the recent spate of Covid-19 cases and the re-imposition of stricter Covid-19 precautions:
As you can see, despite the increase in Covid-19 cases, some people have still protested against Covid-19 precautions. Isn’t that like protesting against water and snakes in the middle of a fire? It also hinders the ability of the Dutch government to contain the virus.
The Dutch experience has shown the importance of maintaining layered Covid-19 precautions as the pandemic continues. The country started vaccinating people against Covid-19 on January 6 and had fully vaccinated 84.1% of adults aged 18 and over by the end of October, according to the Dutch government. This vaccination rate is not bad. It will likely reduce the number of deaths and poor outcomes among those who become infected. But such vaccination coverage is still not high enough to exceed herd immunity thresholds. To really interrupt the transmission of the virus, you probably need to vaccinate at least 80% of the entire population, including children. After all, children also have noses, mouths and lungs and can therefore also carry and spread the virus. If your child does not have a nose, mouth and lungs, take him or her to a doctor immediately. Or maybe to an aquarium, because he or she may be a fish.
The four new additions to Level 4 mean that 80 destinations around the world are currently at that level. That’s the same number as last week, because on Monday, four destinations previously dropped from Level 4 to Level 3. One of these was Thailand. (Not in Thigh-land, but in Thailand. If your plane ticket says “Thigh-land” as the destination, you still don’t have to go there.) The other three that had to go down to level 3 were Iran, Sint Maarten and the Republic of the Congo.
Expect the CDC Covid-19 Travel Recommendation lists to change from week to week for now. The Covid-19 pandemic remains a very dynamic situation around the world. Some countries, such as New Zealand, Taiwan and South Korea, have managed to contain the Covid-19 coronavirus with organized, proactive, science-based strategies. However, others, such as one that begins with the letter “U” and ends with the letter “S,” have been much more reactive and haphazard. This creates a lot of uncertainty from week to week in the coming months. For example, who knows how many Holland days it will take before the transmission of the coronavirus Covid-19 decreases and the precautions are relaxed again?
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