Monday 17 January 2022

Dutch won’t change travel rules yet, talks are under way at an EU level

Coronavirus testing at Schiphol airport. Photo: Brandon Hartley

The Dutch cabinet has decided to not yet implement advice from public health institute RIVM to make sure everyone coming to the Netherlands has a negative coronavirus test to travel, even those who have been vaccinated.

The RIVM is also recommending that unvaccinated passengers from outside the EU should also go into quarantine and that everyone take a self-test on arrival and five days later a PCR test at a regional health board centre.

However,  health minister Hugo de Jonge has told MPs that he first wants to wait for EU recommendations before deciding what measures to take. This will prevent a mishmash of rules within the EU itself, he said.

In the meantime, he said, officials are in talks with KLM, Schiphol and the regional health and safety boards on how mandatory testing after arrival could be made possible for travellers from very high-risk countries with a variant of concern.

The cabinet had asked the RIVM for its opinion on Monday, after 14 cases of the Omicron variant were found on two plane-loads of passengers from South Africa.

However, since then, officials have discovered the new variant was already in the Netherlands and that one of the two people with Omicrom had no links to southern Africa.

5pm closing

MPs are debating the government’s latest coronavirus measures on Wednesday, including the decision to close cafes, cinemas, restaurants and sports clubs at 5pm.

On Tuesday MPs expressed their anger at the slow start to the Dutch booster jab campaign. The Netherlands has so far only given 82,000 elderly people a booster dose – which is one of the worst performances within the EU.

De Jonge told MPs that he aimed to make sure everyone over the age of 60 who wanted a booster dose was vaccinated again by the end of the year.

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