MP's still support Covid law, but criticism is growing
The lower house of the Dutch parliament is increasingly critical of the law that makes the coronavirus measures possible. Parliament debated late into Tuesday night about the fourth extension of the law, which took effect on December 1 and will last until March 1.
The fourth extension of the Temporary Act measures Covid-19 (Twm) will likely be approved next week in a retrospect vote. Still, many parties wondered whether it is not time to get out of the crisis position and get rid of the emergency legislation.
GroenLinks MP Lisa Westerveld thinks it is time for "democratic recovery," two years after the pandemic started. Together with the PvdA and SP, she proposed reversing how decisions are made about the Twm: from now on, parliament should give permission first. If that does not happen, the Twm will expire, she proposed.
Health Minister Ernst Kuipers told parliament he "understands the need to organize the decision-making process differently." As an example, he cited his recent decision to send the Outbreak Management Team's advice to parliament earlier from now on. His predecessor Hugo de Jonge always did this only after the coronavirus press conference.
Many parliamentarians made the broader point that the curtailment of fundamental rights must be dealt with differently, now that there is no longer an acute crisis. Mirjam Bikker of the ChristenUnie believes that there is now a "grey area" in terms of proportionality, although she still supports the current extension of the law.
There was also a lot of criticism about the fact that people who have had two vaccinations but no booster will soon lose their coronavirus access pass. According to SP parliamentarian Maarten Hijink, this is not justified since these people are still well protected against severe illness, and it undermines support for the policy.
It now involves about half a million people, but that number could rise much further as millions of vaccinated people have not yet received a booster shot, Hijink emphasized.
The VVD and D66, among others, think it is too early to abolish the Twm.
Next week Wednesday, parliament will vote on the extension of the Twm and the motions and amendments submitted, including Westerveld's proposal.
Reporting by ANP.