What does the NRC mean | Cabinet must avoid new corona confusion

Doing homework or watching TV? Show a child this choice and the answer can be guessed. Dutch companies also know how to find the path of least resistance. At the request of Minister Ernst Kuipers (Public Health, D66), they were allowed to indicate which corona measures would be acceptable in the event of a possible revival of the pandemic. Very little according to the ‘sector plans’ published last week by the employers’ organization VNO-NCW. The Corona admission ticket? Neither, it sounds sector-wide. A lockdown? Restriction of opening hours? No thanks. Mandatory face mask? Especially not, say the hairdressers. A meter and a half away? Unfeasible, says the event and culture sector.

Read also: Business is thinking about corona measures and most of all will not

You could see from miles away that the willingness to make sacrifices is small, and all industries believe that the other industries should bear the burden of the corona policy. So why this exercise? Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s (VVD) cabinets do not like to be known as bossy. In earlier phases of the corona crisis, harsh restrictive measures were invariably combined with a call to citizens and businesses not to forget their own responsibility. Only together can we get rid of the virus, Rutte said more than once. The hope is that, thanks to the new sector plans, there will soon be less need to impose from above. As a parent who doesn’t want to appear authoritarian would ask: what do you think is best?

Again, the companies are not completely on the brakes. Shop owners and hairdressers are calling for longer opening hours instead of shorter ones, so that customers can be better spread out. They suggest setting up hand gel pumps, marking walking routes and asking visitors to do a self-test. Measures that are probably insufficient to relieve the health care system in the event of a resurgence of the virus.

If this is a foretaste of the approach to the next big pollution wave, then it is worrying. In itself, the desire is to involve companies in politics as far as possible. Now that it turns out that they mostly don’t want much, one has to hope that the government will soon come up with its own plan. The fact that the companies revolve around the hot mess can come in handy here. Minister Kuipers will always be able to say: I asked them, but the answer was quite disappointing. That this is disappointing is not entirely the fault of the sectors concerned. The companies asked the cabinet and the RIVM about the effectiveness of measures, but were told that it is difficult to say this about individual measures. It sounds disturbing, if not confusing: surely something has been learned in the last 2.5 years?

Also read: You don’t hear Kuipers about prevention

According to the sector plans, the re-introduction of the mask obligation is difficult for everyone. Hairdressers find it an obstacle to communication. The event industry believes that the masks create “false security”. If the mask is returned, the companies say, it must be stated which mask: fabric, surgical, FFP2. A fair point, because even for something so basic, there was much more confusion in the Netherlands than in other EU countries. The final sector plans will be laid out in September, the government promises. One must hope that there will be not more discussion, but less. This requires, as annoying as it is, leadership. The government must not become best friends with everyone, but must show that it is doing what it has to.

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