In order to accelerate the reduction in the number of coronavirus infections, very vigorous measures should be taken, more severe than during the lockdown in March. That says Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the House of Representatives, where irritation has arisen over the disheveled communications of the Cabinet.
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The measures would have ‘enormous societal impacts’ and should apply more than a few weeks, warned Prime Minister Mark Rutte in debate with the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
Many parties in the Chamber wanted to know from Rutte whether there is not too long waiting for any new interventions. The Cabinet wants to wait a few more days to see if the partial lockdown on October 13 is effective. PVDA leader Lodewijk Asscher has the idea as if the cabinet wants to reduce the figures “as slowly as possible”. Is it not much better to intervene quickly and hard, he asked.
Rutte does not rule out new measures being taken next week if the number of infections does not decrease. But according to the Prime Minister, there is ‘no indication’ that the package from two weeks ago has insufficient effect. “If that turns out in the next few days, we will deliver immediately. Everything is ready to do more, I guarantee you.”
“ Overall” he wanted to say that “if you want to speed up the braking distance, you will come to measures that will probably go further than in March.” If there is no change in the next few days, further measures will also be taken, but they will be more in line with March, according to the Prime Minister.
It is now too early to measure the impact of the new measures, said Rutte Tuesday evening during a short press conference. Yet care minister De Jonge reported that the measures will remain in force from 13 October until at least in December.
Secretary of State Mona Keijzer did not make the message any easier by stating on TV late at night that prolongation of the measures, including the closure of the hospitality industry, is not yet certain.
Coalition MP Van Weyenberg of D66 criticized the communication of the Cabinet. “If it is true that the measures are being extended, that is not a compassionate way.” He wants to know clearly from the cabinet whether or not the catering industry should close until December.
GL-leader Klaver supports the extension of the measures. “But don‘t do that between nose and lips. It is a tremendous announcement.” It doesn’t help that Keijzer underdug the message at Op1 again. “One of the most important tools available to the cabinet is crystal clear communication.”
Clap in the face
Of course we have to stick to the measures, says SP leader Marijnissen, “But the cabinet is also dropping stitches.” The socialist points out that the basic, the test policy and the source and contact research are not in order. Labour Party leader Asscher joins this: “I think it is indecent to say at a press conference that was not supposed to be called press conferences, something you could already know three weeks ago: that we have to live with restrictions for the time being.” MP Azarkan wonders why the Cabinet is prolonging measures when the contamination figures do not yet provide guidance. A slap in the face of entrepreneurs who are in uncertainty is his judgment.
There is also confusion about what De Jonge told during the ‘press mom’ about the reproduction number, the degree of contamination. The CDA CEO said Tuesday that according to RIVM estimates, it is 0.88, which reduces the number of infections. RIVM director Jaap van Dissel could not confirm this in the Chamber on Wednesday morning. “I think hope is father of thought.” The reason for Asscher to shammer: “Hope the father of thought, but hope is not a strategy.”
The measures came into force almost two weeks ago. According to the Prime Minister, the image of the last days is ‘not unfavorable’, although the figures still offer ‘insufficient sure’. “If the decline is not there, we must take additional measures anyway,” says Rutte. “Chances are likely that the current package will work.” But even then, it takes until December for care to get air, with less than 40 hospitalizations per day. Today there are 200, but the decision on the extension of the measures has not yet been taken.
In the Chamber there was a call for stricter intervention. Among others Marijnissen (SP) and Asscher (PvdA) advocated ‘fast and hard’ intervention. Rutte has his question marks about that. “It‘s not that simple. If you want a shorter braking distance, we will really have to take a lot of draconian measures and they will have to last for many weeks.” The prime minister explicitly calls the “social and psychologicalconsequences” of lockdown-like measures.
During the debate, it is also about care salaries. PVV leader Wilders threatens to file a motion of censure if the cabinet does not make clear how it will increase healthcare salaries.
On Tuesday, the Chamber adopted a proposal by a narrow majority calling on the Cabinet to increase health salaries. However, the Cabinet points out that salaries are already rising considerably and that the appeal from the Chamber is of no use. “Finally the motion was passed, without even anyone running away,” says Wilders. “Caregivers happy. And then they are told: it’s not going on.” “A sacrifice from parliament, a sacrifice of democracy and a slap in the face of all concerned.” SP leader Lilian Marijnissen joins this. “This is unacceptable. The Cabinet will not get away with this.”
During his reply, Prime Minister Rutte indicates that during the current cabinet period EUR 6 billion is already going to healthcare salaries. “A motion adopted is very relevant but does not automatically mean that it will be adopted,” says Rutte. “The cabinet must also be able to relate to the text of motion.”
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