Cabinet concerned over rapid increase in Covid cases in Bible Belt
Caretaker Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security finds it essential to stay in consultation with areas in, for example, the Bible Belt where new coronavirus hotspots are flaring up. To combat the virus effectively, the Minister believes that both the enforcement of the rules and vaccinations must continue to be discussed. "I believe we can still only do it together."
Figures from the RIVM showed on Monday that coronavirus infections are rising rapidly, especially in the Bible Belt, where the vaccination rate is low. Nevertheless, the mayor of Urk, where the vaccination rate is the lowest, told AD on Saturday that he does not want to be too strict in enforcing the coronavirus rules because the infection figures are still under control.
When asked, Grapperhaus said that the mayor's opinion is "a bit more nuanced than what emerged from the media." Nevertheless, the Minister believes it is essential that the rules are observed there too. This is partly because the Cabinet wants to pursue the same policy throughout the country and does not want to implement regional measures. It is, however, necessary to implement the approach per region "in very good consultation and advice," according to the Minister.
As for Grapperhaus, the principled religious objection to vaccination that exists in municipalities must also be discussed. "That can always yield results." In addition to being Minister of Justice and Security, Grapperhaus is also Minister of Religion. That means that he is responsible for matters that have to do with faith.
Staphorst, which has the second-lowest vaccination coverage after Urk, is currently the largest coronavirus hotspot in the Netherlands. In the past seven days, 225 residents tested positive. That is almost the same as in Utrecht, which has twenty times as many inhabitants. Due to the many new cases, a temporary test location opened in the village on Tuesday. According to the GGD, the infections in Staphorst occurred in all age groups, and most people became infected "in the family circle." The number of positive tests may increase further in the coming period because more tests are being done, the GGD said. After that, the number of cases could drop.
Reporting by ANP