Dutch Senate approves mandatory quarantine & access testing laws
The Eerste Kamer has approved a temporary law that authorizes a ten-day mandatory quarantine for travelers arriving in the Netherlands from areas at high-risk for a coronavirus infection. The upper house of Parliament also approved a measure to allow authorities to insist people produce a negative coronavirus test to gain entrance to certain sites and events.
The Cabinet’s proposals won majority support after a lengthy debate that lasted deep into the night, ANP reported.
Two weeks ago, the Tweede Kamer approved the introduction of a mandatory quarantine for people arriving from areas designated code orange or red by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Traveler must isolate at a location of their choosing, and may be released from quarantine after five days if they test negative for the coronavirus infection.
Without a negative test result, travelers are ordered to stay in quarantine for 10 days. The municipalities will be tasked with monitoring and enforcing the measure.
People who do not comply with the new law risk a 435 euros fine. The fine is high enough that it will result in a criminal record for violators, making it more difficult to secure certain jobs, and to maintain a residency permit.
The law aims to prevent dangerous new strains of the virus from being imported to the country from abroad. The RIVM and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Public Health will be tasked with determining which countries and regions should be designated as high-risk areas.
The access testing law was also backed, but approval of the Cabinet’s proposal in the Senate was hampered mostly by the far-right PVV and left-wing PvdA. According to them, the proposed law left too much room for interpretation regarding the use of access tests.
GroenLinks eventually approved of the initiative ensuring a majority, but only under certain conditions. For example, the left-wing party advocated for the testing law to be disconnected from the temporary law authorizing the government to enforce broad coronavirus measures nationally. In addition, the party argued tests should not be required in places where sufficient distance can be kept by attendees.
Furthermore, GroenLinks asked outgoing Health Minister Hugo de Jonge to allow self-testing in areas where there are no test locations available nearby. The Cabinet previously promised to investigate whether self-tests can also be sufficient.
Amendments will be voted on next week, including a D66 proposal calling for the Cabinet to draw up specific guidelines for when access tests are required.