New law will formally establish fines for breaking social distancing rules

Image of Dutch parliament. Photo: Sisyfus via Wikimedia
Photo: Sisyfus via Wikimedia

The basis for social distancing and fines for people who don’t keep to the 1.5 metre rule are to be anchored in temporary legislation, RTL Nieuws reported at the weekend.

Currently the regulations are based on the government’s emergency powers which can be enacted at times of crisis. But legal experts have criticised the lack of legal basis given the length of time the measures have now been in force, and say it may be possible to challenge fines in court.

The draft legislation, which will also be temporary, will formally establish fines for people who do not keep 1.5 metres distance apart. It will also give the minister powers to require people to wear protection such as a face mask, RTL said.

In addition, the legislation will define what should be considered a household, which may now include groups of students and flat-sharers. There have been several cases of students being fined for not social distancing outside, even though indoors they share the same kitchen and bathroom.

The legislation first has to be looked at by the Council of State advisory body and debated in both houses of parliament, but health minister Hugo de Jonge hopes it will come into force on July 1, RTL said.

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