Persons infected with the coronavirus and people who have been in contact with an infected person may be forced to quarantine. Minister Hugo de Jonge (Public Health) said in a parliamentary debate on Wednesday that there is a legal basis for this, “but I hope not to use it”.
At the moment, the minister sees that the vast majority of GGD people are advised to be quarantined at home after, for example, a positive test or if a source and contact survey shows that someone has been in contact with a positive tested person.
If it proves necessary to intervene, the presidents of the security regions can force people to stay at home.
New testing policy should lead to eases
With a new test policy, the cabinet hopes to steer the easing of the corona measures announced on Tuesday. The aim is to test everyone with corona symptoms from 1 June. That is also when the GGDs will expand the source and contact research. People who have come into contact with an infected person will be called and advised to stay at home.
CDA and SP, among others, wondered whether this is sufficient. “What if these people, or people who have the virus, don’t follow rules?” asked Pieter Heerma (CDA).
SP leader Lilian Marijnissen wanted more clarity about whether employers can force employees – who are not themselves ill, but who have been in contact with an infected person and who are advised by the GGD to stay at home – to come to work.
De Jonge emphasized that the GGD advice is a medical advice that employers are bound by based on the Working Conditions Act. If possible, you may be asked to work from home.
Relaxations will lead to new infections
The House of Representatives debated with the cabinet, among other things, about the new relaxations. Prime Minister Rutte announced on Tuesday that he sees no obstacles to continue with the planned easings that will apply from 1 June.
This means that the catering, cinemas and museums can open again under certain conditions. Secondary education is starting again, albeit partly. It is also possible from June 1 to meet with more than two people. Face masks are mandatory in public transport. The advice is not to use medical masks, although no fines will follow if they do.
The cabinet emphasized that the relaxations are likely to result in an increase in the number of corona infections. To prevent a second peak from arising and the pressure on healthcare increasing again, the strategy is to quickly start new “fires” by intensifying testing and detecting infections.
With the introduction of a so-called dashboard, the Cabinet wants to provide more insight into the status of the number of infections, but also when it is necessary to intervene and possibly tighten up the measures again.
Uncertainty about new dashboard
There are still many questions from the House of Representatives about this new strategy. For example, GroenLinks wants more clarity about the dashboard. “How and when will the government make adjustments?” Jesse Klaver wonders. Gert-Jan Segers (CU): “Based on what and what is being done?”
It is still not clear to PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher what the government is aiming for: is it going to pass the virus on, or to focus on containment?
Minister De Jonge said that it is currently difficult to indicate exactly with numbers when the dashboard indicates to intervene.
This dashboard includes data about hospital admissions and IC admissions, as well as test results, as well as the results of studies into the extent to which people adhere to social distribution rules and movement patterns based on location data from telephones.
It remains to be seen what the dashboard will ultimately look like. De Jonge does believe that it will provide more insight into the decisions taken by the cabinet.
Deletion penalty “not cast in concrete”
Part of the House also considered the extension of the economic emergency package. According to PVV, GroenLinks, SP and PvdA, the disappearance of the dismissal fine – which is a fine for entrepreneurs who ask for state aid, but who fire people – will lead to mass layoffs. Asscher thinks it is more sensible to maintain the fine and make exceptions for companies that can demonstrate that they have to fire people, otherwise they will go bankrupt.
Prime Minister Rutte reiterated that the cabinet’s goal is to keep as many jobs as possible. With the abolition of the fine, the government estimates that, instead of going bankrupt, companies only have to lay off part of the employees. Next week, the House will further debate the matter. Rutte did add that he is still in talks with the unions, who are strongly against abolishing the fine. “It is not cast in concrete,” said the prime minister.
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