Cabinet divided about return of Covid access pass
The Cabinet is divided over a possible return of the coronavirus access pass system. Health Minister Ernst Kuipers said that he has "no intention" to reintroduce it, and he will only submit a separate bill to reauthorize it if a majority of the Tweede Kamer indicates it is in favor of bringing access passes back.
However, Economic Affairs Minister Micky Adriaansens is less certain. During the coronavirus debate in the Tweede Kamer on Wednesday, she said many sectors want to keep the pass "in the toolbox" so that it can be quickly implemented if needed.
Adriaansens, a VVD member, said she is aware of the political sensitivity about the access passes, but said the sectors have "good arguments" for keeping it on hand as a last resort to avoid closure during a massive resurgence of the coronavirus. Keeping society open is the starting point of the government 's long-term corona strategy, Adriaansens emphasized.
VVD MP Harry Bevers said that 14 of the 29 sector plans include the return of access passes, and the VVD faction is in favor of keeping it as a possible measure. Coalition partner CDA is not. One of the MPs from that party, Joba van den Berg, said it has not yet been demonstrated that access passes led to fewer coronavirus infections.
Adriaansens countered, saying various studies have shown that the pass was "definitely effective." In addition to the CDA, various opposition parties also have no confidence in the return of the access pass, such as the PVV, SGP, DENK and the BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB).
Incidentally, there is currently no legal basis for using coronavirus access passes. The ability to impose the system on society was not included in the amendment to the Public Health Act (Wpg), which was recently submitted to the Tweede Kamer. Taking collective coronavirus measures - such as the obligation to wear a face mask - could soon be legally anchored via the amended Wpg. The Tweede Kamer has yet to consider the bill.
The Council of State recently advised the Cabinet to include the access pass in its changes to the Wpg.
Employers' organizations VNO-NCW and MKB-Nederland, as well as arts & culture groups and others said they want to be able to use this pass to prevent a total shutdown of their sectors. They have included this in their plans, which were requested by the Cabinet. The plans indicate at what point they will implement different measures in the event of a resurgence of the coronavirus.
With the coronavirus access pass, people were only allowed to enter certain locations during the peak periods of the coronavirus pandemic based on their test status, vaccination status, or prior infection history.
The measure was particularly divisive, with a very heated, vocal segment of the public opposed to it. The pass was formally scrapped just a few months ago.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times