Parliament supports own contribution for access testing
A very narrow majority in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, supported the government's plan to charge a personal contribution for coronavirus access tests in the future - once everyone has had the chance to be vaccinated against Covid-19, RTL Nieuws reports.
The cabinet wants to introduce such a personal contribution for people who haven't been vaccinated but want to go eat in restaurants, attend festivals or sports matches, or go to cultural gatherings and have to show evidence of a negative test. The government believes this is justifiable at this stage of the pandemic, as everyone will soon have had the chance to be vaccinated.
According to caretaker Health Minister Hugo de Jonge, this is not a form of direct or indirect compulsory vaccination, but may act as an incentive to get vaccinated. The cabinet is thinking of making the personal contribution 7.50 euros, so that it is not so high to act as coercion, he said.
The D66, VVD, CDA and Volt submitted a motion during the coroanvirus debate on Wednesday, asking the government to "work towards the establishment of a profit principle when testing for access, based on a personal contribution." They stressed that there must be an exception for people who cannot be vaccinated and that the own contribution must lapse if testing for access is necessary regardless of vaccination status.
Other parties in the Kamer were strongly opposed to the idea. PVV leader Geert Wilders called an own contribution "a form of coercion that we should not want". SP leader Lilian Marijinissen said that this would exclude people who can't or don't want to be vaccinated, and who cannot afford the own contribution. "7.50 euros is still an amount, you can't beat that. That will lead to a dichotomy."
PvdA parliamentarian Attje Kuiken said she is not completely against a personal contribution in principle, but wondered whether this is the time to implement it. Autumn is approaching, and with it a possible new wave of infections. "We are just entering a stressful phase, why not keep it as it is for the next three months?" She added that before implementing this own contribution, the government should first do absolutely everything in its power to get the vaccination rate as high as possible.