Dutch government considering 8pm to 4am coronavirus curfew
At the press conference on January 12, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that he was considering implementing a curfew in the Netherlands in the hopes it would help limit the spread of coronavirus. Now, a government document has revealed what that curfew could look like.
8pm to 4am coronavirus curfew for the Netherlands
Cabinet ministers are awaiting the latest advice from the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) - which Rutte hopes to receive this weekend. The government will then go on to discuss the possibility of a curfew early next week.
So far, Rutte has provided little information as to what this curfew might look like, but this is not the first time the cabinet has discussed introducing a curfew. Following an official meeting on December 13, a confidential document was drawn up to outline the coronavirus measures which had been discussed - including a potential curfew.
The document - which can be found on the government’s website - reveals that a curfew would apply from 8pm to 4am, banning all movement aside from necessary travel. In this case, necessary travel would include:
- A (medical) emergency
- Assisting someone in need
- Walking the dog
- Travelling to leave / return to the Netherlands
As can be read in the document, the aim of the curfew is to “limit social contacts and travel movements in the evening hours and support the enforceability of existing coronavirus measures.” Anyone outside of their homes between the aforementioned hours will be required to present an official form or a statement from their employer to prove their movement is necessary. Anyone found breaking curfew will face a fine, but the value is yet to be determined.
Rutte and his curfew face criticism from MPs
In a debate in the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) on Wednesday, Rutte said further measures were necessary to reduce coronavirus infections in the Netherlands. His plan to implement a curfew faced serious criticism from MPs.
But Rutte’s party (VVD) and the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) defended the Prime Minister, with CDA leader Pieter Heerma saying such a measure could not be ruled out. Rutte begged the House not to vote against the curfew: “Please don't throw it away,” he said, “We have to push [the virus] down. I don't think we'll get there with the existing lockdown.”
Travel ban for high-risk countries?
D66 leader Rob Jetten said the curfew would only be effective if it was enforced properly - which likely won’t happen as police officers, mayors, and community officer (BOAs) have all spoken out against a curfew - and asked the Prime Minister to instead focus on stopping flights from the UK and South Africa.
Party for Freedom (PVV), GroenLinks, the Party for the Animals (PvdD), and the Reformed Political Party (SGP) also made it clear they didn’t support the measure, seconding D66’s demand to first consider implementing a travel ban for countries where new, highly contagious strains of the virus were spreading quickly.
On Thursday, the Dutch government announced all travellers from the UK, South Africa, and Ireland must undergo a rapid test as well as a recent PCR test before departing for the Netherlands. Around 20 flights arrive at Schiphol from the UK every day (22 are scheduled for Thursday).