The cabinet has made two concessions to MPs following Wednesday’s debate on the latest coronavirus plans: libraries and community centres can open for specific functions and funerals can be bigger – if the local mayor agrees.
MPs voted in favour of a motion calling for libraries and community centres to remain open because of the vital role they fulfill for some people. Ministers have now agreed that libraries can open for counter service and for students and school pupils who have homework classes, while community centres can open for individual appointments.
In addition, mayors will be able to allow funeral organisers to have more than 30 guests in ‘special’ circumstances at their own discretion, ministers said.
Prime minister Mark Rutte announced on Tuesday that all public buildings, including libraries, museums and cinemas, will close for the next two weeks as an extra impulse to bring down the coronavirus infection rate.
MPs were highly critical of the new strategy during Wednesday evening’s debate, particularly the decision to close museums and libraries but to allow shops to remain open. ‘So you can buy a book but not borrow one?’ as one MP put it.
Rutte told MPs that the decisions were based on experience derived from the first wave. ‘We are doing the things that worked then,’ he said. ‘Only closing the schools and stopping people in contact professions [such as hairdressers] proved to be less effective.’
Non-food shops were not closed during the first Dutch lockdown but many closed voluntarily in the first few weeks, because of the government’s advice to stay home.