Friday 17 September 2021

Senate votes in favour of coronavirus law, clearing way for face masks

The senate has voted in favour of new legislation designed to anchor the coronavirus measures in law, and which will clear the way for the introduction of compulsory face masks.

Senator vote 48 to 24 in favour of the new law, with far right parties, the SP and pro-animal PvdD voting against.

The law, which replaces the emergency powers currently used to implement social distancing and other requirements, was first mooted in the spring and will become law in December, if not before.

Ministers were earlier forced to make concessions to get the legislation through the lower house of parliament.

Among the amendments made to the first draft of the legislation, which was heavily criticised inside and outside parliament, was a decision to cut the lifespan of the law to three months.

Ministers also agreed to cut the fine for breaking the coronavirus social distancing and other rules to €95, which means people who do infringe the law will no longer face a criminal record. The maximum prison term for breaking the rules on group gatherings and keeping 1.5 metres was also cut from one month to two weeks.

Masks

Although the Dutch partial lockdown includes measures such as and self-isolation in the case of illness or travel, the use of masks and quarantine in the Netherlands cannot currently be made compulsory.

Instead the government has opted for ‘urgent advice’ to wear face masks inside public buildings, shops and museums.

However, the new law will make it possible to enforce the wearing of face masks, something which ministers said they will do as soon as possible.

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