MPs back corona pass plan, but say no to checks at pavement cafes

A corona pass QR code and scanner. Photo: Rob Engelaar ANP/HH
A corona pass QR code and scanner. Photo: Rob Engelaar ANP/HH

MPs have voted narrowly in favour of the government’s plans to scrap social distancing and make use of the coronavirus check app more widespread, but say the pass system should not operate on cafes’ outside spaces.

The government plans to drop social distancing from September 25 and replace it with the CoronaCheck QR code app, which shows a green tick if the user is either fully vaccinated, has recently had coronavirus or has a negative test no older than 24 hours.

Coronavirus in the Netherlands: what you need to know

Prime minister Mark Rutte had urged MPs not to support an exemption for cafe terraces, arguing that it would make using the app more complicated and would cause problems if customers wanted to pay indoors or visit the toilets.

Nevertheless, the motion, drawn up by the coalition Christian Democrats and opposition Labour party, was passed. They argued that coronavirus spreads much less quickly outdoors.

The introduction of the coronavirus pass has infuriated cafe and bar owners in particular, who claim it will cost thousands of euros to run the checks in the coming months.

Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema has already said that council wardens will not check up on whether the app is being used, because of a lack of manpower.

The Hague, Groningen, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Nijmegen also see problems with making sure the pass is being used, the Telegraaf reported on Friday.

‘It simply can’t be enforced,’ a spokesman for Nijmegen mayor Hubert Bruls told the paper. ‘Like Amsterdam, we don’t have the people to check if every cafe is keeping to the rules.’

Some cafe owners have already gone public, saying they will not operate the system.

Similar passes and QR codes are widely used in other EU countries, without major problems.

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