Exceptions to curfew revealed as Rutte awaits House of Representatives approval
At the press conference on January 20, Acting Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced a number of new coronavirus measures for the Netherlands, including his plans for a national curfew. If approved by the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) on Thursday, the curfew could come into effect over the weekend.
Dutch House of Representatives debates curfew
Prime Minister Mark Rutte may have announced his intention to introduce a curfew, but the measure still needs to be approved by the House of Representatives. The House was scheduled to debate the curfew on Wednesday afternoon, but this was postponed until Thursday in order to allow MPs sufficient time to prepare.
Rutte and his cabinet need the support of the House in order to enforce the curfew, but this is far from guaranteed. As recently as last week, the majority of MPs were still against the idea, but since then a number of parties, including the Labour Party (PvdA) and GroenLinks, have begun to have a change of heart. On the other hand, Forum for Democracy (FvD), Party for Freedom (PVV), and D66 - one of the four coalition parties - still see it as an overly severe restriction.
It is possible that Rutte and his cabinet will be unable to secure a convincing majority. If this happens, the curfew will not be implemented. It is also possible that the Prime Minister will have to change the curfew hours - pushing it back from 8.30pm to 9.30pm - in order to secure the necessary support.
Exceptions to the national curfew
If the House votes in support of the measure on Thursday, the cabinet hopes to introduce the curfew over the weekend. The aim of the measure is to limit the number of social gatherings, and Rutte hopes it will deter people from visiting the homes of family and friends. However, if the curfew is introduced, there will be a handful of valid exceptions:
- Work (i.e. police officers, paramedics, nurses, etc)
- A (medical) emergency
- Assisting someone in need
- Walking a dog
- Necessary travel to leave / return to the Netherlands
- Travelling to / from a funeral
- Travelling to / from court
- Homeless people who do not want to make use of the accommodation available to them
- Attending a live evening TV programme as a guest
If you are outside for work, you must receive a statement from your employer which can be used as evidence. If you are self-employed, you can fill in your own statement. The Dutch government has created a standard employer’s statement which will be made available on rijksoverheid.nl once the curfew is official.
If you’re taking the dog out for a walk during curfew hours, you must go out alone and the dog must be on a leash. If you are to appear as a guest on an evening TV show, you must have and be able to present an invitation.
If you need to be outside during curfew hours, you will be expected to carry a “self-declaration curfew" form (Eigen verklaring avondklok). You do not need this form if you are outside because of an emergency, if you are walking a dog, or if you are returning to the Netherlands from abroad. Similarly to the employer’s statement, the form will be made available on rijksoverheid.nl once the curfew has been approved by the House of Representatives.