Senate to reject extension of temporary Covid measures law
The Dutch Senate is going to vote against a new extension of the temporary coronavirus law. This means that the Cabinet will no longer have a legal basis for announcing restrictive measures to tackle the pandemic, such as making face masks obligatory in different settings, or requiring people to maintain physical distance.
Forty of the 75 senators have already announced their intention to vote against the fifth extension of the temporary law measure during the Tuesday afternoon debate on the subject. The senators will cast their votes on Tuesday evening. The opponents said they see no need for the law anymore, now that the number of coronavirus infections is not particularly high. According to the RIVM, about 1,200 people tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus each of the past seven days.
The number of verified coronavirus infections have been especially low in the Netherlands since the government began encouraging people to use self-testing at home instead of official tests organized by the GGD health services. The government also stopped advising people to confirm a positive self-test with the GGD.
The senators from the parties that joined in a coalition to form the Cabinet are also extremely critical of a new extension to the law. However, they would rather have a law in place should there be a resurgence of the coronavirus new measures become necessary again. "I would rather have a temporary law, instead of falling back on emergency ordinances or an emergency law," said Maarten Verkerk of the ChristenUnie.
The entire Senate (Eerste Kamer) believes that the Cabinet should have started revising public health regulations much sooner. This law must structurally regulate which restrictive measures the Cabinet may take in the event of a pandemic, such as coronavirus.
Health Minister Ernst Kuipers will introduce an amendment to the Wpg, the public health act, before 1 September. Only after the amendment of the law has been ratified by both the Tweede Kamer and the Eerste Kamer, will there again be a legal basis for the Cabinet to order restrictive measures. It will in instead have to resort to the use of emergency ordinances and laws, which must then be urgently addressed by both Houses of Parliament.
The coalition parties do not have majority support in the Senate.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times