Monday 18 October 2021

Junior minister Mona Keijzer sacked for coronavirus pass comments

Mona Keijzer, left, in her Budget Day outfit. Photo: Peter Hilz ANP/HH

Junior economic affairs minister Mona Keijzer has been sacked after she gave an interview to the Telegraaf newspaper in which she said she had great doubts about the use of the coronavirus pass to gain entry to restaurants, bars and theatres.

Rutte said in a statement that he had taken the decision to sack Keijzer following discussions with the economic affairs minister and the three deputy prime ministers – who represent the three other parties in cabinet alongside Rutte’s VVD.

The interview was published on Saturday, the day the coronavirus pass came into widespread use in the Netherlands, replacing social distancing and a number of other measures.

In the interview, Keijzer told the paper: ‘You notice that it is becoming increasingly difficult to explain why the pass is needed at one location and not at another’.

Later in the interview, she commented on the high vaccination rate and low hospital admissions, saying ‘and then I think, yes guys, are we going to continue on this road or are we going to organise it differently?’

‘If you are in a society where you have to be frightened of everyone else unless you can show a little pass, then you have to scratch behind your ears and ask yourself if this is the direction we want to move in,’ she said.

Anger

The interview angered many in her party, the CDA, given that the comments  contradict cabinet policy drawn up by her party colleagues, health minister Hugo de Jonge and justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus.’

The comments made by the minister are ‘not compatible with decisions recently taken by the cabinet,’ prime minister Mark Rutte said.

Controversy

It is not the first time Keijzer has caused controversy. In December she hinted that high street stores such as Hema, Wibra and Action could remain open, even though the cabinet had implemented a hard lockdown from shops selling non-essential products.

And in March the entire cabinet had to be tested for coronavirus after Keijzer was diagnosed with it after attending a cabinet meeting.

She has twice run for leadership of the CDA, against Sybrand Buma when he first ran, and against De Jonge in 2020 after Buma stepped down.

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