Face masks will be compulsory in all public buildings, shops, and stations from tomorrow as the coronavirus law comes into effect, and people who refuse to wear one face a fine of €95.
The new law provides a legal base for earlier measures and will be valid for the next three months. The penalty, just short of €100, means people who fail to abide by the rule will not face a criminal record.
The Netherlands is one of the last countries in Europe to impose the wearing of masks following pressure from the public and MPs. The Dutch health institute RIVM which advises the government still maintains that face masks do not significantly lower the risk of infection.
Retail chains, such as Ahold, which comprises Albert Heijn, Etos and Gall & Gall, have already said they will ‘inform customers about the obligation but not refuse non-wearers’.
Mirage retail group, which owns Blokker, Intertoys, Big Bazar and BCC, also said it will inform but not police the new rule. ‘This is not something which we consider part of our job as shop workers,’ a spokesman told the NRC.
Umbrella retailers organisation RND director Eus Peters said the law is aimed at the consumer not the shop owner. ‘It is not the shop owner who will be fined. All shops have to do is make sure shop workers wear a mask. If customers refuse to wear a mask shops could consider to call a warden (boa) but the question is: who would go that far?’
Schools, where masks have been recommended in corridors and communal areas, are expecting the new law to dampen resistance by a small but vocal group of parents, a spokesman of the secondary schools council VO Raad told the paper.
Dutch rail is not expecting any trouble at it railway stations. ‘You are already required to wear face masks inside the train and the step to include stations is not a big one,’ spokesman Erik Kroeze told the NRC. The NS also has its own security personnel to police the law.
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