Rutte begs MPs not to block curfew; 20:00 to 04:00 considered
A large part of the Tweede Kamer is still against the idea of implementing a curfew in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus. In a parliamentary debate on the extension of the hard lockdown on Wednesday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that a curfew might be necessary and pleaded with the parliamentarians not to block the measure.
In mid-December, the government asked the national coordinator for counter terrorism and security NCTV to work out what a curfew could look like. The NCTV advised a curfew keeping people in their homes between 8:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m., according to NOS who saw the document. Only absolutely necessary movements will be allowed at that time. This includes movements for work, medical treatment for persons or pets, helping someone in need, and emergencies. If you have to travel in curfew hours for work, your employer must give you a statement explaining your movements.
In November, the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, passed a motion by PVV leader Geert Wilders not to allow a curfew. The motion was supported by the entire opposition and coalition party D66. On Wednesday, the Kamer again expressed their resistance to the idea, calling a curfew too harsh a measure that affects citizens' freedom too much.
Rutte pleaded with the parliamentarians not to rule out the possibility of a curfew. "I also hate to think about it at all, but don't throw away any tools. That is a luxury we don't have," he said. He referred to the situation in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where the highly contagious B117 strain of the coronavirus has infection figures exploding, with disastrous consequences for healthcare.
The government expects that strain of the coronavirus, which is about 55 percent more infectious than the strain currently in the Netherlands, will also spread in our country. Health experts agree, with both Jaap van Dissel of public health institute RIVM and Ernst Kuipers of acute care network LNAZ expressing concerns about the virus in a briefing to parliament earlier in the day. "No healthcare system" can stand up against a coronavirus that spreads that fast, Kuipers warned.
The government asked the Outbreak Management Team to give urgent advice on the implementation of a curfew. The OMT will also look at possible alternatives, like making working from home mandatory for companies where this is possible, and limiting people's movement to no more than 15 kilometers from their home. The advice is expected next week.
Despite the Prime Minster's pleas, the PVV, D66, GroenLiks, PvdD, and SGP still made clear that they are against a curfew. "I say to the cabinet: don't do it now," D66 leader Rob Jetten said. He does not want to put curfew enforcement on already overworked police officers and enforcers. The D66 will only consider a curfew once there are "London situations" in the Netherlands, he said.
PVV leader Wilders acknowledged that a curfew may lead to a greater sense of urgency in the population, "but this measure is disproportionate for that", he said. GroenLinks said the government should first stop the around 20 flights that still land at Schiphol from the UK every day. "A curfew is not the first thing that comes to mind," party leader Jesse Klaver said.