Wednesday 28 July 2021

Ministers agree to bring back working from home rule after MPs’ criticism

The debate took place in the Knights Chamber. Photo: Bart Maat ANP

People are once again being urged to work from home, and proper ventilation will be included in the basis coronavirus rules, following Wednesday’s stormy parliamentary debate on the surge in positive Covid cases.

Working from home had been a key part of government policy to stop the virus spreading for over a year but was replaced two weeks ago by a 50% home working requirement.

This is the second time the government has reversed a decision since deciding to let most of the rules go on June 26. Since then, the number of new cases has risen 500% within a week and the ‘test for entry’ system for clubs and festivals has already been suspended.

Prime minister Mark Rutte said during the debate that the infection figures did not indicate a return to working from home was necessary because so many infections were taking place in cafes, bars and at festivals.

However, to meet MPs’ wishes, Rutte said that working from home would again be leading.

Ventilation

The importance of good ventilation is also being added to the three basic rules of social distancing, hand washing and testing. Several political parties had called for ventilation to be added to the list, particularly in schools and in the hospitality industry.

‘We will work on it, and proceed from there,’ Rutte told MPs, adding that it is important professionals are involved to make sure that ventilation systems do not spread the virus further.

MPs were highly critical of the cabinet’s decision to reverse most of the measures and to ignore recommendations made by its own health experts. But some did point out that parliament itself had voted to approve the relaxation of the rules.

Ministers also agreed to set aside a further €135m to help event organisers whose festivals have been cancelled because of the decision to suspend the test for entry programme.

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