Add curfew, school closures to permanent coronavirus law: Council of State
The Council of State sees the amendment to the Public Health Act (WPG) as a “necessary first step towards a sustainable, legal system.” Though it thinks the Cabinet should add curfew and the introduction of the coronavirus access pass to the bill, which legally anchors the coronavirus measures.
The Council of State’s Advisory Division said this in its advice on the government’s proposal to amend the WPG. The Council of State doubts whether the measures in the bill are sufficient in the event of a serious pandemic.
The Council of State advised the government to include the option to close schools, the curfew, and the coronavirus access pass in this law and only then present it to parliament. These measures are politically extremely sensitive.
The Council of State compared the emergency law with a toolbox. The law contains instruments that can be used “under strict conditions,” for example, in the event of an outbreak of a serious infectious disease. The Minister of Public Health can only take collective measures if parliament and the Senate agree. According to the Council of State, this involvement of the Senate and parliament is “sufficient for the moment.”
After this bill is passed, the government still has a lot to do for the “pandemic preparedness” of the Netherlands. In the long run, the government must better align the legislation with existing state emergency and crisis laws, the Council of State said. “Parliamentary involvement also needs to be better thought out.”
“In emergency legislation, the crux is to find a good balance between the need to be able to act quickly and flexibly (striking power) and, on the other hand, the need for democratic legitimacy,” the Council of State said. In a second amendment to the WPG, this balance should be the guiding principle. The Council of State emphasized that the government must make quick work of this.
Reporting by ANP