Friday 26 February 2021

Curfew on the cards? Experts call for clear rules and few exceptions

Dog walking will still be allowed. Photo: Phil Nijhuis ANP

The government is widely expected to announce a curfew from Friday in an effort to prevent more virulent strains of coronavirus from taking hold across the country.

On Tuesday, health minister Hugo de Jonge called a surprise press conference for early Wednesday afternoon, saying ‘the cabinet considers it necessary to bring in extra measures as soon as possible.

And sources have told broadcaster NOS that ministers are discussing ordering everyone to stay home apart from essential workers from 8.30 pm to 4.30 am at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning.

The government’s Outbreak Management Team has said that a curfew ‘could lead to an important and relevant extra reduction in the total number of Covid-19 cases by February 9’. That is when the current lockdown is due for review.

Other measures are also on the table, such as further restrictions on home visits, new limits on funeral numbers and even a potential flight ban from Britain and South Africa, where the new strains of the virus were first identified.

Parliament

MPs are set to debate the new proposals later on Wednesday afternoon, after a briefing by OMT members.

Given that the cabinet is currently in a caretaker role, support of a majority of MPs will be crucial to implementing the curfew, if ministers decide to go ahead. According to the NRC, both GroenLinks and the PvdA are now tending towards supporting the government line.

Coalition party D66 is known to be against a curfew, making the support of opposition parties key.

Communication

Meanwhile, members of the regional safety boards have urged ministers to make sure any curfew is ‘as tight as possible’, and to explain it clearly and simply to the man in the street.

Exceptions to the stay home rule should be limited, to ensure it is easy to police, association chairman Hubert Bruls said after Tuesday night talks with justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus.

‘You will have to convince people that this is a step with a clear end point, and not a step towards becoming a police state,’ Marco Zannoni, director of the Institute for Safey and Crisis Management, told broadcaster NOS.

DutchNews.nl will be covering the press conference live via Twitter.

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