The Dutch papers on Tuesday morning all agree on the inevitability of the new lockdown, with much 20-20 hindsight about the timing. Here’s a round-up of what the papers say.
The Volkskrant in its editorial says the cabinet has shown the kind of decisiveness it has lacked over the past few months. The coronavirus measures ‘hit many disproportionally while sparing others’, the paper said, and this undermined solidarity between groups.
But this policy, which was similar to that in many other European democracies, was trying with great difficulty to marry combating the spread of the virus with keeping intact people’s freedoms.
‘It may not always have been a coherent and effective policy but it is one that is in agreement with the kind of society we have,’ the paper said. ‘It has also lead to what it was meant to avoid: a lockdown during the festive season’.
The NRC said in its analysis that coalition partners and the opposition parties view the prime minister’s live broadcast, which was watched by over 8 million people, as an opportunity for Rutte to present himself as a statesman.
The majority of the people support a total lockdown – 49% in favour and 34% against – and this gives Rutte a chance to campaign ahead of the elections in March and increase his lead even further, the paper writes.
It is not a run race, however, the paper said, because signs he is not in control of the crisis will damage him and he will also look over his shoulder at the CDA’s popular new leader Wopke Hoekstra.
The partial lockdown hasn’t worked and it was time for a total lockdown, Trouw writes in its update. ‘Metal fatigue’ among the population has been undermining the measures and Germany’s total lockdown opened up the possibility of shoppers spilling over the borders to do their shopping here, Trouw said.
The paper also points out that hospital admissions in both countries are rising and that it is unlikely Dutch patients will be treated in German hospitals, as was the case in March.
The Telegraaf puts cabinet ministers on the spot who, misguidedly it suggests, had no faith in stricter measures proposed by health minister Hugo de Jonge and Mark Rutte in October and called them ‘fact free hallucinations’. That decision, writes analyst Wouter de Winther meant the ‘total lockdown and curfew went out the window’ at the time.
Now, the Netherlands is closing down after all and we still have to ask if the measures are the right ones, he said. ‘Everyone has seen the overcrowded shopping streets in the big cities, but what is changed by closing down the hairdresser in Dokkum or the gym in Cuijk?’
The Financieele Dagblad too, says that the cabinet has been overtaken by the speed the virus is spreading.
It cites health economist Xander koolman who told the paper that ‘we should have been stricter sooner. This lockdown will be extremely damaging.’
A second lockdown is exactly what the government wanted to avoid, the paper says. Nevertheless, this time round there is more perspective for the future, thanks to the vaccination programme and the options for testing and contact tracing. ‘This combination should ensure most of the limits disappear next year, the paper said, ‘even though the next few weeks will be tough.’