Ministry acknowledges: mail about corona-app should not have been so

The Ministry of Public Health (VWS) acknowledges that the Dutch Association of Meal Suppliers (NLVVM) has received a request to ask employees to download the corona app. This is against the agreements that Minister De Jonge made with the Lower House of Parliament. Other professional groups also received the call. That should not have been the case, says a spokesperson after reporting in the NRC.

Minister De Jonge (CDA) wrote to the Lower House in July that people should never, directly or indirectly, be forced to use the CoronaMelder. But in an e-mail to the NLVVM it says: “I would like to ask you to help us bring the corona app to our attention, for example as one of the corona measures you take from the association in order to work as ‘safely’ as possible and to also ask your carers to download the app so that they can prevent unconscious contamination”

“Didn’t go well

A spokesman for De Jonge says this didn’t go well. It should have been mentioned in the mail that downloading the app is voluntary. “We’ve rectified that by now.” He says that nobody, “not the government, not employers“, can force people to use the app.

The corona app has not yet been implemented nationwide. The law to make that possible is now in the Upper House. In the mail, the ministry writes that a public campaign will start around the national introduction, which should lead to as many Dutch people as possible downloading the app. The request to the employers is an addition to this.

“No coercion or urge

Several members of the House of Representatives take the issue very seriously. Kees Verhoeven of government party D66 thinks this should stop immediately. “There should be no (indirect) coercion or pressure to use the app.” He thinks it’s a bad thing that the mail was sent “against the crystal-clear agreements with the House of Representatives”.

Stieneke van der Graaf of the Christian Union wants clarification from the ministry. “This was one of the key points in the debate on the corona app. No coercion, but also no urge by, for example, your employer to install the app.”

The corona app, which warns people if they have been in the vicinity of someone infected, has been controversial from the outset. Not everyone trusts that user data is safe.