Majority in parliament still behind curfew
A majority in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, support the emergency bill submitted by Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus to give stronger legal basis for the coronavirus curfew. The Eerste Kamer, the Dutch Senate, will consider the bill on Friday, NU.nl reports.
The Tweede Kamer came back from recess to debate the developments around the curfew after a court declared it invalid on Tuesday. According to the court, the government did not meet the requirements of the law it used to implement the curfew. The government appealed against the ruling and another court ruled that the curfew would be in effect until the appeal case appeared in court. That will also happen on Friday. The hearing is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. In the mean time, Grapperhaus drafted a new law to give the curfew a firmer legal basis.
SP parliamentarian Maarten Hijink spoke of "legal fumbling" by the government, adding that this mess led to a loss of trust in the cabinet. PvdA parliamentarian Attje Kuiken stressed that this cannot happen again. Nevertheless, both parties, in addition to 50Plus, supported the law with the coalition parties VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie.
These parties also hold a majority in the Eerste Kamer, so the expectation is that the Senate will also pass the law. MPs asked Prime Minister Mark Rutte whether the cabinet intends to repeal the first law and replace it with the second law, because it is clearly more correct. "It seems obvious, but it is not possible to say a hard yes or no to this now," Rutte said. He will inform the Kamer about this as soon as the court ruled on the appeal case, he said.
Parliamentarians also asked questions about the proportionality and effect of the curfew. Rutte said that the curfew combined with the one-visitor per day rule have a proven effect on the coronavirus reproduction number.
The current curfew is in place until 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning. That will also be the case under the new law. The departing cabinet will discuss the extension of the curfew and other measures in the coronavirus lockdown at the Catshuis, Rutte's residence in The Hague, on Sunday.
Rutte and Hugo de Jonge, the departing Minister of Health, are expected to give a press conference to update the nation on the state of affairs around the pandemic on Tuesday. During the debate on Thursday, Rutte said that he has little hope that relaxation will be possible.