New justice minister criticised for not emphasising Covid rule enforcement

Photo: RVD – Valerie Kuypers and Martijn Beekman
New justice minister Dilan Yesilgoz in her official portrait. Photo: RVD – Valerie Kuypers and Martijn Beekman

Justice minister Dilan Yeşilgöz has found herself under fire less than a week after being sworn in, for making comments which appeared to suggest coronavirus measures might not be enforced.

Yeşilgöz was asked by reporters if her strategy will be different to her predecessor Ferd Grapperhaus who had been criticised for not being tough enough when the rules were widely flouted.

‘Compliance is more about what you and I make of it, than the police doing rounds,’ she is quoted as saying by broadcaster NOS. ‘Ultimately, coronavirus, like it or not, is something we have to deal with together. So it is really up to people themselves whether or not they stick to the rules. You do it for your own health and your own surroundings.’

Asked if there would be enforcement or not, Yeşilgöz said that there would be, ‘if we have agreed something and you don’t do it.’ But ultimately, she said, ‘and I will say this again, coronavirus is about our own responsibilities and our own role within that.’

MPs from both the coalition parties and opposition said the minister’s comments were ‘not sensible’ and ‘the wrong signal’.

D66 MP Hanneke van der Werf said it is important that the police and council wardens feel supported by a clear message from the minister. ‘The strategy will be a success or failure, depending on the willingness to enforce the rules,’ she said.

On Thursday evening, Yeşilgöz issued a statement saying she would emphasise the importance of enforcement in her meeting with mayors on the regional safety board committee.

Bar and cafe owners all over the country say they plan to reopen on Saturday, even though they unlikely to be allowed to do so. The government will announce its new coronavirus strategy on Friday evening.

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