Due to the easing of last month and early this month, we can go back to the cinema, the terrace and more often to work. Only half a million Dutch people with health problems still live in isolation, estimates the interest group Elkein. They are at a higher risk and do not dare to go outside.

“While the rest are enjoying the relaxations, many chronically ill and people with disabilities are often still in the middle of the corona crisis,” says Elkein director Illya Soffer. “They know that if they get covid, it will almost certainly be fatal to them.”

Many people who were able to participate in society in spite of their limitations, now do not dare to go to work, the supermarket or the hospital because of the crowds in those places, says Soffer. “The easing has only made it more fearful for them. They live very isolated.”

Not safe outside

This certainly applies to Patricia van Corven. She has leukemia, COPD and lung cancer. A corona infection could quickly become fatal to her. “From the beginning of Corona I stayed neatly inside and I have not seen my children and grandchildren again. My children said: if we ignite you, that would be terrible.”

Muscular disease patient Rivka Smit is hardly ever out. She has not been going to work since March. She gets “very limited” friends and family to visit. “I can say that life is a lot duller and more isolated than before. And when you hear that the infections are increasing again, my fear increases again.”

If she does go outside, she doesn’t feel completely safe. “I have the impression that there is no longer a 1.5 meter society.”

Elkein director Soffer believes that the government should enforce the 1.5 meter rule better, so that the chronically ill do dare to go outside. She believes that face masks should be compulsory in places where keeping distance is really impossible.

“That would give me more freedom in shops and the like,” says Smit. “Then of course you have the discussion whether people use a mask properly or not, but I think that if everyone protects themselves, it is less dangerous for me.”

Soffer: “As an alternative, you can also think of certain hours in which shops and services are especially open for people with a vulnerable health. Or an app that shows how busy it is somewhere. So that people can keep enough distance.”

The government should give medical (FFP) masks to the chronically ill, “who are undeniably at very high risk”, says Soffers. “So that this group, for whom the 1.5-meter society is literally life-threatening, dares to go back to the street, in the public space or the hospital. Because waiting for a vaccine is really not an option.”