Thursday 29 September 2022

Mayors, health board unhappy at plans for permanent coronavirus laws

Photo: DutchNews.nl

Mayors, local health boards and legal experts are highly criticial of the government’s plan to enshrine temporary legislation to manage coronavirus into permanent law, Trouw reported on Monday.

The legislation will not contribute to a ‘robust’ system to combat the pandemic but is likely to create confusion because it is not clear about the responsibilities and powers of both mayors and safety board chiefs, critics have told the paper.

The new legislation, which is being incorporated into public health law, will give national government the power to limit constitutional rights should there be a surge in new cases. This could include enforcing social distancing, the closure of public buildings, test and quarantine requirements and compulsory face masks.

The legislation will also give the heads of the 25 safety boards the power to intervene if faced with a local epidemic.

The legislation is being rushed through because the senate, in May, refused to extend the temporary coronavirus legislation, which means that the cabinet no longer has a legal basis to impose restrictions on movement if coronavirus flares up again.

The temporary legislation required extending every three months and expired on June 1.

Assessment

The draft bill is currently being assessed by the Council State, which is due to report back later this month.

In particular, mayors are not happy that a ‘temporary problem’ is being dealt with by far reaching legal changes which they say have been quickly cobbled together.

The legislation is ‘full of sloppiness and sent out for consultation just before the summer break,’ Joost Keemink-Haane, who chairs the Dutch mayors association, told Trouw. ‘We think if you are going to do this, then do it well.’

Health service experts have also complained the legislation is not clear about the rules for quarantine and self isolation.

A spokesman for health minister Ernst Kuipers said the government too would have preferred more time, but that it had no choice because of the senate’s decision.

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