Saturday 19 June 2021

Prominent economists quit campaign for ‘safe zones’ for the Covid vulnerable


Three of the nine high profile academics and economists who launched a controversial campaign to get the Netherlands on the road to recovery last week have now stood down from the organisation.

Herstel-NL (literally, recover NL), published a plan to relax the coronavirus measures  by ‘protecting’ people with vulnerable health conditions instead. In particular,  shops, cafes, restaurants, schools and theatres can reopen if those more vulnerable to the impact of coronavirus stay in special ‘safety zones’ where the coronavirus rules are very strict, the organisation said.

Coen Teulings, former head of the government’s CPB economic policy think tank and Barbara Baarsma, economics professor and director of Rabobank Nederland announced their decision to quit in identical LinkedIn posts on Monday night.

Both had high profile roles in last week’s launch and both have declined to give a reason for their departure so far.

The third person to resign, economist Bas Jacobs, said he was uncomfortable with the high profile campaigning.

The Herstel-NL campaign has so far raised €100,000 via crowdfunding for a publicity campaign to back its strategy, which it has used to buy billboard and advertising space nationwide.

Herstel-NL founder and chairman Robin Fransman said on Tuesday the organisation had come under pressure from ‘politicians in The Hague’ to stop the campaign until after the general election. In addition, he said, some members had come in for a great deal of criticism and had decided to step down.

Events showed that the campaign had hit a ‘sensitive nerve’, Fransman said. Nevertheless, the campaign will continue, he said. ‘We are not afraid of public debate.’

The Herstel-NL campaign was shredded in satirical television programme Zondag met Lubach this weekend.

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