June 24, 2020 / 3:33 PM / 19 days ago

Dutch set to further ease coronavirus measures as infection rate drops

AMSTERDAM, June 24 (Reuters) - The Dutch government was set to further ease its coronavirus lockdown measures on Wednesday, allowing more people to visit restaurants, cinemas and theatres and to travel on trains and buses.

The government will no longer set a limit 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, Dutch media said, citing sources close to the cabinet.

Public transport will start operating at full capacity, with travellers advised to avoid rush hours as much as possible.

Restaurants, bars, cinemas and other public places in the Netherlands were allowed to reopen earlier this month, after an 11-week lockdown, but were still limited to a maximum of 30 visitors at a time.

Trains, buses and trams were only allowed to use 40% of their capacity to help ensure social distancing.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte is expected to formally announce the government’s decisions at a news conference at 1700 GMT on Wednesday.

The Dutch health ministry was not available for comment on the reports.

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 Editing by Gareth Jones

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