Almost 1000 inmates go into quarantine after outbreak
Roughly 1,000 inmates across the Netherlands have to go into quarantine after coming in contact with either an infected fellow prisoner or an infected guard.
Two penitentiaries, in Ter Apel and Nieuwegein, have gone into complete lockdown due to the extensive spread of the virus. In Ter Apel that’s a total of approximately 400 inmates and in Nieuwegein, 335.
The prisoners of certain cell blocks and wards in facilities located in Grave, Heerhugowaard, Roermond, Rotterdam, Zaanstad and Zeist have also been isolated from others.
Lawyers for the prisoners say they are concerned about the well-being of prisoners. The rules during prison lockdown include no visits, no exercise and no showers. Additionally, due to safety regulations, inmates are not allowed to wear face masks. “This basically means solitary confinement”, said Hettie Cremers, the lawyer of one prisoner in Roermond, to NOS.
The decision was made after the outgoing Ministry of Legal Protection, Sander Dekker, consulted with the Outbreak Management Team (OMT). The OMT advised the penitentiaries to go into lockdown to avoid a further spread of the virus, especially since the more contagious B-117 coronavirus variant has been detected in the country.
Cremers thinks a different approach is needed. “With preventive testing, a proper face mask policy and social distancing the prison could accommodate its members better.”
The director of the prison in Roermond had a different opinion. “The same rules apply as in the outside world: If you’re sick, you go into quarantine.”
Testing is only carried out if a prisoner experiences symptoms.