Dutch government’s access test policy costs taxpayers 200.000 euros per day
The introduction of the Dutch government’s Testen voor Toegang policy at the start of June meant events and businesses could be free to welcome more customers / visitors through their doors if they made use of access tests and the CoronaCheck app.
While the policy has been scaled back significantly as a result of rising infections across the Netherlands, Het Parool reports that the infrastructure will continue to cost taxpayers at least 200.000 euros per day.
Dutch government's Testen voor Toegang policy
At the press conference on July 9, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that the Dutch government was halting the access test policy for the catering industry. The rule meant that any restaurant or nightclub that made use of access tests could forego the 1,5-metre distance rule.
But, since July 10, this rule has only applied to seated events and venues, such as cinemas and theatres, and consequently fewer people will be required to book appointments for tests in order to go out.
The Dutch government had contracted a number of companies to carry out these tests, and has worked to scale up testing capacity over the past few weeks as nightclubs reopened and more people booked holidays - this summer, 400.000 free rapid tests will be available every day. But with less demand, few appointments are booked, and these test centres remain empty - on Friday, only 94.000 appointments were scheduled.
Taxpayer covers costs of free coronavirus tests
According to figures published by Het Parool, the government funds the access test locations in two ways; a variable remuneration to cover salaries and wages, and a fixed remuneration of 387 euros per day to cover the costs of the tests.
Minutes from a meeting that took place in May note plans to set up 526 testing locations in the Netherlands. With each receiving 387 euros per day, it means the policy costs the government - and the taxpayer - at least 203.500 euros per day.
The director of one of the 11 companies contracted by the government to carry out these tests told Het Parool that a “decline in turnover” would have to be taken into account over the coming weeks: “The fixed fee will remain, but we will probably run fewer tests. That is inherent to the pandemic, it is business risk.”