The young Minister of Economic Affairs, Mona Keijzer, was sacked by Prime Minister Mark Rutte. His crime? Suggesting that the country’s vaccination passport program is “illogical” and that the Netherlands should “go back to the old normal.”
From Sunday, people wishing to visit bars, cafes, restaurants and other places will need to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination or the results of a recent negative test. The laissez-passer system was introduced despite recent mass protests in Amsterdam, and protests against the now-mandatory vaccine passports took place again on Sunday.
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Critics of the regime have come both from the public and workers in the hotel industry, but also from within the government. In an interview with the Telegraaf newspaper on Saturday, Keijzer said he was “inexplicable” that the pass was necessary, even though the massive reopening of schools and universities in August had not resulted in an increase in hospitalizations.
“You can participate in the marathon without [vaccine pass], but if you’re going to eat a pastry in the dining room, you must have it, “ she said, adding that she could “no longer explains it logically.”
If we find ourselves in a society where we have to be afraid of each other unless we can prove it, then you really have to scratch your head and ask yourself, “Is this the direction we want to go? “
Keijzer’s comments earned him an early dismissal from Rutte’s cabinet. After consulting his deputies and the Minister of the Economy, he announced on Saturday that Keijzer would be sacked “with immediate effect.” His comments, he said, were “Not compatible with recent decisions taken by the cabinet”.
The Algemeen Dagblad (AD) newspaper reported that Rutte and his team only learned of Keijzer’s interview late Friday night and, aware of the position she would take, immediately agreed to fire her. According to AD sources, the minister had not planned that she would be fired. Had she been warned of the consequences, she said, “She would have resigned.
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Since the introduction of the vaccine pass, social distancing measures in the Netherlands have been almost entirely lifted. Bars and cafes must always close at midnight, and masks are still mandatory on public transport and at airports.
About 82% of eligible adults in the country are now fully vaccinated and cases of Covid-19 have been declining steadily since July. In his interview, Keizer pointed to the high vaccination rate, as well as the rarity of severe symptoms at present, as evidence that vaccine passports should be scrapped. “We have to go back to the old normalcy” she said.
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