“ Nobody wants a curfew. No one is cheering. Not me, not Hugo de Jonge, not the whole cabinet.” That was what demissionary Prime Minister Rutte said yesterday at the press conference where he explained the intention to introduce such a curfew. According to Rutte, ‘we have to brace ourselves once more, now that all the experts warn against a third wave. ‘ With the current contamination figures and the rise of the British variant, the Cabinet is therefore convinced of the need. Whether the Chamber is, must be seen today.
The Cabinet advocates a curfew, but along with the further reduction of home visits – to a maximum of 1 person – and the discontinuation of flights from the United Kingdom, South America and South Africa. The concerns about virus mutations from those last two areas are great, said Rivm-boss Van Dissel yesterday in a briefing in the Chamber. Because it seems that they can escape the immune system, and so the question is whether antibodies or a vaccine will work with those variants. Van Dissel spoke of a “dark cloud coming towards us”.
The question is whether the Chamber sees that cloud as well and sees reasons enough to agree to a curfew. In November, in a motion by the chairman of the PVV Group Geert Wilders, the House of Representatives spoke against the introduction of a curfew.
Also last week there was a large majority against, including D66, one of the (then still missionary) government parties.
A curfew? Only if at some point there are ‘London states’ here, as D66 Group Chairman Jetten said:
“ I don‘t see the curfew next week being proportional,” Jetten said very clearly last week. Forum for Democracy is also strongly opposed and other parties, including SP, the Green Left and the PvdA, have so far doubted and spoke of a ‘very violent measures‘.
The cabinet has now met one of the objections, the continuing “flight from risk countries while people are locked up at home”. There will be a provisional flight ban from the United Kingdom, South Africa and the whole continent of South America until a mandatory quarantine measure is in force.
The question then remains, even if there is only a week in between, whether the parties after the briefing and the concerns about yesterday’s British and other mutants have changed their minds.
In order to convince parties, the demissionary cabinet will have to come up with a good foundation today, says political reporter Ron Fresen. “There is not really one convincing decisive argument to do it, the underlying figures also do not show that a curfew is Columbus‘s egg.”
And now that the cabinet is demissionary and this is such a far-reaching measure, the cabinet cannot push it through with a narrow majority, according to Fresen. That is why the press conference also expressed a intention and not a decision announced.
Stepping on the brake
The parties may feel set to the block and will not simply agree to something they fought with fire last week in today’s debate. They may also try to change something about the time: whether the curfew starts at 20:30 or 21:30 can make a big difference to the support.
In any case, a large majority must be convinced by the story that it is now really necessary to step on the brakes. On the other hand, if parties reject a curfew, they can be held responsible if there are many infections, says Fresen.
He therefore thinks that it will turn to adjusting the starting time point. That would bring about the curfew, but just a little less radical than it was announced yesterday.