Sunday 18 April 2021

Ministers switch to online meetings after deputy PM contracts coronavirus

Kajsa Ollongren leaves the parliamentary complex after testing positive for coronavirus. Photo: Bart Maat ANP

Meetings of the ministerial council will be temporarily moved online after a second cabinet minister received a positive coronavirus test.

Talks on forming a new coalition government were suspended on Thursday morning after deputy prime minister Kajsa Ollongren tested positive for the virus.

The government’s information service said in-person meetings were being held in line with coronavirus rules, ‘but the decision has been taken to hold meetings of the ministerial council via communications technology for the time being, as a precaution.’

Ollongren, home affairs minister in the current administration, is leading the exploratory talks along with Annemarie Jorritsma of the VVD. On learning of her positive test Ollongren immediately left the parliamentary complex, where she and Jorritsma had been due to discuss their findings with prime minister Mark Rutte and D66 leader Sigrid Kaag.

On Friday junior economic affairs minister Mona Keijzer went into self-isolation after she tested positive for the virus. Other members of the cabinet were not required to quarantine under Dutch government rules because they had maintained social distancing at meetings.

Health minister Hugo de Jonge went into quarantine on election day last Wednesday after a member of his staff had a positive test, but De Jonge tested negative on Saturday.

Last November junior defence minister Barbara Visser was the first member of the cabinet to contract the virus.

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