“We have daily contact with the tour guide,” says a spokeswoman for the GGD. The health service is preparing for a busy period in which a large group of students from a risk area must be monitored. “We check every day whether there are any signs of respiratory complaints and fever within the group.”
This morning, RIVM tightened up travel advice to northern Italy. It is not recommended to go to the area unless very necessary. Vindicat left for the ski slopes in Sestriere last Saturday. RIVM advises students to avoid large crowds, such as parties and concerts, on their return.
“We follow the advice of the professionals”, says Floris Hamann, rector and contact person of Vindicat. “I don’t think we would have gone to Italy if the current travel advice had been in force at the time of departure. But that was different on Saturday.”
The response from the GGD shows that this is not entirely true. He gave the advice to cancel prior to the ski trip. “We have taken that into consideration in our advice,” says the spokeswoman. “Vindicat has decided to go to Italy after all. They are advice, not obligations.”
Members of Parliament Harm Beertema and Chris Jansen (PVV) asked questions about the skiing trip of the student association yesterday. The pair judges the timing of winter sports as ‘unwise’ and wonders what measures are being taken to protect the Groningen community against new infections.
SP Member of Parliament Maarten Hijink agrees. He told RTL News that he wanted to know if a more serious appeal could not be made to stop these journeys. “We also want to know what will happen when they return. How do we keep these 900 students in sight to prevent them from infecting all sorts of people?”
According to Hamann, none of the Vindicat members display any symptoms of cold or fever. Also no-one has reported to him with the request to go home earlier because of the risk.
“Everyone is free to choose,” he says. “If someone wants to go home, we will arrange it. Some students will return sooner because of lectures.”
For Hamann, the frequent consultations with the GGD, RIVM and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs mean that he will not be skiing this week. “A pity. But that’s just the situation, and I have to deal with that.”