Room really wants a strategy: ‘No longer bumping from lockdown to lockdown’

MPs, from the opposition and the coalition, believe that the outgoing cabinet should make more work on a long-term strategy for corona. Thats what they say in a tour of Nieuwsuur.

Like many experts, MPs expect that we will not be rid of corona after this winter. โ€œWell be with this for a while,โ€ says Liane den Haan (Den Haan group). โ€œIn the end, it will phase out a bit, but I suspect that will take another or two years, unfortunately.โ€

Maarten Hijink from the SP is more pessimistic. โ€œThat virus is no longer going away. So youll have to find a way to stop bumping from lockdown to lockdown.โ€

Opposition members believe that the cabinet is now always introducing corona measures too late, without a clear strategy. Den Haan: โ€œThe courage drops into your shoes. The booster campaign, which I asked for in June, is now starting to get started a bit.โ€

There is still no strategy

But also within coalition parties, the criticism sounds that the cabinet is always waiting too long to intervene and has no clear vision. โ€œWe now send on those waves every time,โ€ says Mirjam Bikker (ChristenUnie). โ€œIf you do that, you can lose course. I have already asked the cabinet several times to come up with a strategy for an endemic situation, if it is more certain how corona stays among us.โ€

Den Haan also says that โ€œthree or four corona bats agoโ€ has already asked about the cabinets long-term vision. โ€œIts not there, and its still not there.โ€

The partieless Pieter Omtzigt emphasizes that MPs themselves are also too busy with loose corona rules, as experts said recently. โ€œThe House thinks it should interfere with individual measures. We shouldnt do that. We need to ask about the strategy, the planning, but not whether the curfew can be half an hour earlier or half an hour later. That is the operational implementation and we have a government for that.โ€

Omtzigt and Bikker point to a report by the WRR and the KNAW in which the two scientific advisers of the government outline five future scenarios for corona. Omtzigt: โ€œOnly in the first scenario, corona disappears and in the other four scenarios we still have to deal with it for a long time.โ€

Cabinet, go work out those scenarios, says Bikker. The other Comrals are also calling on the government to make plans for the coming years. Instead of waiting for the next wave, โ€œwe already have to do things that we know well need again that next winter,โ€ says Jan Paternotte (D66).

Flexible shell IC staff

For that long term, the MPs have a variety of ideas. The boosters should be available earlier next year, they think. โ€œThey should at least be ready for all the elderly and vulnerable in October next year,โ€ says Paternotte.

Hijink (SP): โ€œThe elderly and the vulnerable are likely to have to give a shot every year to prevent them from getting sick and other care needs to be postponed. Then you have to have your vaccines in time and a minister who goes through and doesnt always wait too long.โ€

โ€œIt is very important that we set up the organizations well to vaccinate, boost and test them in these different scenarios,โ€ says Aukje de Vries of the VVD. โ€œAnd that we ensure that the IC capacity, for example with a flexible shell, can better respond to pandemics.โ€

Already in the beginning of the pandemic, the cabinet was slow to take measures. The Netherlands only late chose to really fight corona, recently revealed this Nieuwsuur study:

Hijink also advocates a โ€œmore robust healthcare system that is much more resistant to large numbers of patientsโ€. In addition, the capacity of the GGDs should also structurally higher, he thinks. โ€œSo that we can maintain that testing and source and contact research. We now have to let go of that very early in every wave, so that we lose sight of the virus.โ€ Omtzigt: โ€œIf you want to test now: good luck, youll take hours in the queue.โ€

Joba van den Berg from the CDA thinks its smart to focus corona care โ€œin certain locations where you also use care reservists and pensionersโ€. By the way, she is the only one who advocates waiting with a long-term strategy until 2022, โ€œWe need to get this wave down first.โ€

Hard, principled choices are not on the wish lists of the MPs who spoke to Nieuwsuur. For the time being, no party is willing to opt for a vaccination obligation. Only D66 and VVD have indicated that they are in favour of a 2G policy.