AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Netherlands will press ahead with a further easing of lockdown measures in June due to a steadily declining number of coronavirus infections and hospital admissions, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday.
High schools will reopen on June 2 and elementary schools will return to full schedules on June 8, Rutte said, detailing a decision by the Dutch government.
The easing will take place nearly two and a half months after lockdown measures were imposed across the country of 17 million in mid-March.
"We earned the space we are getting for sticking to the guidelines," Rutte said in a live television broadcast. "We have to stick to the rules because we know the virus can flare up again."
The number of infections from the novel coronavirus rose by 108 to 44,249 on Tuesday, with 21 new deaths over the last 24 hours. The death toll stood at 5,715, national health authorities said.
Cafes and restaurants will be permitted to open on June 1, with a maximum of 30 guests, Rutte said. People must keep 1.5 metres apart from others, unless they live together. Museums will also reopen, but tickets will only be sold online in advance to avoid crowds.
Homes for the elderly, where infection rates have been relatively high, will again allow visitors, with more widespread testing available to reduce risks.
Public transport will also resume regular schedules, with non-medical face masks compulsory for anyone over 13 years of age. Only essential travel will be allowed and less than half of seats will be available.
Gyms and dance venues will remain closed and large sporting events banned, probably until Sept. 1.
(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; editing by Barbara Lewis)