The Dutch government has moved to block the extension of the cabinet’s so-called coronavirus law, arguing that the legislation was no longer warranted. However, medical experts warn that, while the Netherlands continues to face a falling infection rate, the pandemic might not be over.
Dutch government blocks extension of cabinet’s coronawet
After the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) had already voted against an extension, Tuesday afternoon saw the Senate (Eerste Kamer) officially bring an end to the government’s coronavirus law (coronawet).
The temporary emergency law came into effect on December 1, 2020, and allowed the cabinet to take action and introduce restrictions in order to prevent the spread of the virus. The Senate’s decision to block what would’ve been the fifth extension to the legislation means it will expire on June 1, 2022.
Members of both the Senate and the House argued that the coronavirus law no longer felt necessary or justifiable considering the current infection rate in the Netherlands. Members of parliament did say, however, that they would support the return of emergency legislation if the country were to face a COVID-19 resurgence.
The Netherlands could face another lockdown in the autumn
This week, an investigation carried out by NOS revealed that various Dutch virologists, scientists, and doctors felt the Netherlands was “ill-prepared for a severe coronavirus wave in the autumn,” and that the country could potentially face another lockdown later this year if a new variant were to emerge.
Experts highlighted the severe staff shortages currently facing numerous sectors – including healthcare – and argued that the Dutch government was ignoring the real risk of another wave when the weather turns after the summer. “Everyone seems to have fallen asleep, it’s a bit of burying one’s head in the sand,” David Jongen, director of the Zuyderland hospital and vice-chairman of the Association of Hospitals, told NOS.
“I understand that the cabinet is now mainly busy with other matters, with the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, budget problems and the climate problem,” noted André Knottnerus, former chairman of the Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR). “But as a citizen, you can expect that the government can handle several crises at the same time. And every day that you wait counts.”
Number of weekly infections drops below 10.000 for first time since July
While the majority of national coronavirus restrictions came to an end in March, the Netherlands continues to face a falling infection rate, and the number of COVID-19 patients being treated in Dutch hospitals remains low.
On Tuesday, the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) reported 8.372 positive tests between May 10 and 17, marking the first time since July 2021 that fewer than 10.000 cases were reported in a week. The number of infections in the Netherlands has dropped considerably since the government took the decision to ditch the advice to get a positive self-test result confirmed by an official GGD test.