Dear Colleagues,

As is well known, the coronavirus (officially COVID-19) also reached the Netherlands at the end of February. No reason to panic, but it is important to take a number of measures to prevent the spread of the virus as much as possible. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) monitors the spread of the virus and indicates what measures (should) be taken. This letter is partly based on the measures prescribed by the RIVM. Therefore, please direct your attention to the following.


It is important to follow the standard measures that apply to all viruses that can give flu and colds:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use alcohol-based disinfectant hand gel.
  • Cough and sneeze into the inside of your elbow.
  • Use paper tissues or tissues and use them only once (and throw them away immediately).
  • Do not shake hands.

Make sure that your colleagues adhere to this as well, and speak to them if they don't.

Dust masks such as those worn in China do not provide protection. RIVM recommends (professional) face masks only for medical personnel.

What are the symptoms of the new coronavirus?

The main symptoms are:

  • fever (above 38 degrees);
  • accompanied by respiratory complaints such as coughing, shortness of breath and pneumonia.

What if I exhibit symptoms of illness?

Areas at risk (on March 10) are parts of northern Italy (including Lombardy and Veneto), China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Singapore, South Korea and Iran.

If you show symptoms of illness and have been in a high-risk area and/or had contact with a corona patient, report this to your supervisor. There are symptoms of illness if you have a fever (more than 38 degrees Celsius), a cough or shortness of breath. If so, stay home and contact your doctor by phone immediately. If the symptoms of illness occur for the first time while you are at work, you should report it to your supervisor (by phone if possible), go home immediately, avoid contact with others and contact your own doctor immediately by phone. Otherwise, the usual rules that apply in case of illness apply. When you are at home, consider which colleagues have been near you recently, and report this to your supervisor by telephone.

What if I have been in a high-risk area but have no symptoms of illness?

RIVM indicates that it is not necessary to stay home when you return from an area where the virus has been found if you have no health symptoms. If you return from an area at risk without having symptoms of illness, to be on the safe side, contact your supervisor by phone to discuss whether you can work at home or must stay home. If you agree with your supervisor that you must stay home, your pay will continue as usual.

What if I don't want to come to work because I'm afraid of getting infected?

There is no reason at this time to be extra afraid of infection when you come to work. If you are still afraid, contact your supervisor by phone to discuss this. You can then stay home only if you have agreed to do so with your supervisor. If there is an additional risk of infection, we will inform employees. We will then also communicate whether we consider it necessary for employees to stay home. In that case, we will continue to pay wages as usual.

What if I need to be quarantined or isolated?

Isolation is when you are sick yourself, and what has already been noted above applies. Quarantine is when you are not sick yourself, but have been in contact with a patient with a proven infection. Most often, it is home quarantine. You must then stay at home until it is certain that you are not infectious to others. Whether you have to be quarantined is decided by GP or GGD; you cannot decide that yourself. During quarantine, your wages will continue to be paid as usual.

What if I need to pick up my child from school or daycare because of the virus?

If the school or nursery closes and you need to pick up your child(ren) urgently, you are entitled to emergency leave and your salary will continue to be paid. Possibly also the next day, if the school or nursery remains closed, and you cannot find a babysitter on such short notice. Discuss this with your supervisor first.

What if I need to care for a sick child or family member?

If you have to take on the necessary care during the illness of a person as defined in the Labor and Care Act (family members, etc.), the rules in force with us regarding short-term care leave apply. If the illness involves coronavirus, report it to your supervisor. Stay home and contact your family doctor by phone immediately.

Can I go on vacation to a high-risk area?

The State Department site lists the areas to which travel is not recommended.

We cannot prohibit you from vacationing to a high-risk area, but it is not wise. We strongly advise against it. You also run the risk that your travel insurance will not cover you if you travel to a high-risk area. If you were to go on vacation to an area that now appears to be a high-risk area, contact your supervisor and discuss what to do. If you had already agreed on cancellation insurance before it was known that it was a high-risk area, some insurance policies will reimburse cancellation fees. Check with your insurance company about that. But even if the cancellation costs are not reimbursed, your health comes first. So don't let the continuation of your vacation depend on whether or not the cancellation fees are reimbursed.