Dutch parliament supports extension of national curfew
On Monday evening the Dutch government confirmed its plans to extend the national coronavirus curfew by three weeks. Following a parliamentary debate on Tuesday, the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) voted in support of the extension - the curfew will therefore remain in place until 4.30am on Wednesday, March 3.
Majority support in Dutch parliament for curfew extensions
An overwhelming majority voted in support of the extension, with acting Prime Minister Mark Rutte receiving the support of his own party, People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), and the coalition parties - D66, ChristenUnie, and Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) - as well as GroenLinks, the Socialist Party (SP), and the Labour Party (PvdA).
In spite of the support, Rutte and his cabinet ministers were asked by MPs to provide a plan for lifting the restriction, with one D66 MP asking what milestone would have to be reached in order for the curfew to be lifted completely. Rutte was unable to provide a clear answer, but he did say the curfew and restrictions for household guests were having a visible effect on the number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalisations.
Will coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands lift soon?
The effect of the curfew will once again be evaluated on February 23 before the cabinet takes a decision about any further extension to the curfew and other lockdown restrictions. In a statement, the government says it’s possible the curfew will be lifted before March 3 if “the developments surrounding coronavirus give reason to do so,” but Health Minister Hugo de Jonge states that major relaxation after March 2 is highly uncertain: “I'm not even going to use the word easing,” he said.
In spite of government fears of a third wave, some restrictions are being lifted. February 10 marks the first day shops across the country are able to open for click and collect. However, in spite of this relaxation, many business owners don’t expect to see a sudden spike in sales, and are concerned that the cold weather and snow will further deter potential shoppers.
The Dutch counter-terrorism unit (NCTV) has also asked the government to look into possible alternatives to the household visitation restrictions. According to the NCTV, the measure is even less popular than the national curfew and is exceedingly difficult to enforce. Data from the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) also suggests that support for the measure has dropped from 72 percent to 55 percent.