The first statement of the StemWijzer: organizers of events must be able to request a vaccination certificate at the entrance. In the coming months, the discussion about a vaccination certificate and passport will become one of the hot topics in The Hague.
In most party programs for the upcoming elections it does not yet play a role. But the more people are vaccinated, the more the moral dilemma arises. Both in the Netherlands and in the rest of the world.
What exactly is the discussion about?
To what extent may a ‘corona pepper’ provide more freedom, that is the essence. These benefits may apply to the recreational sector, such as visitors to festivals or the catering industry, but also to education, healthcare, work and travel, for example. Proponents of easing for vaccinees see it as the way to ‘open up the Netherlands again’, often in combination with making rapid tests available on a large scale.
But there are a lot of snags. For example, it is still unclear to what extent vaccines prevent vaccinated people from infecting someone else. And the effectiveness against the virus differs per vaccine, how do you make policy on that?
Vaccination is also not mandatory. For a variety of reasons, ranging from religious to medical, people do not want or are not allowed to have an injection against covid-19. Asking for a vaccination certificate “must not lead to prohibited discrimination or unequal treatment and must respect privacy rules”, the Health Council recently warned.
Incidentally, the advisory body concluded that companies are in principle allowed to ask visitors for proof of vaccination. But then they must meet strict conditions.
How do the Dutch feel about it?
In early January, a poll showed that a smaller majority of the population is in favor of a vaccination certificate. Research firm Ipsos then asked:
People who get vaccinated receive a vaccination certificate, which allows them to visit certain places (such as catering, shops, fitness centers, public transport and nursing homes) in the event of an outbreak in their region. People who have not been vaccinated may then be refused.
The remaining percentages of the respondents were either neutral or entered ‘no opinion’.
In the age groups, it is noticeable that the elderly are much more positive about the statement than younger people. This probably has to do with the fact that people with a higher age are vaccinated much earlier and would therefore be given more freedom than young adults.
Where do politics stand?
Most parties disagreed with the first statement in the StemWijzer. Only the VVD, D66, 50Plus, Bij1, Volt, Libertaire Party, Jong and NLBeter are in favor of organizers of events to be able to request a vaccination certificate upon admission. The other 22 parties in this voting aid disagree.
But on this sensitive issue the wording is very narrow. At the RTL election debate last Sunday, only D66 was in favor of the proposition: vaccinated citizens should be the first to regain their freedom. VVD, CDA, GroenLinks, SP disapproved.
D66 party leader Kaag cites Israel as an example. There, residents can activate a certificate on their phone after the second shot. This gives them access to cultural performances, sports competitions, swimming pools, places of worship, gyms and hotels.
CDA party leader Hoekstra said he was surprised by Kaag’s position. “Then my grandmother will be allowed to go to the cafe, but someone of 20 years old will not be allowed to go to his education.” Kaag insisted that she was only behind the statement on the condition that additional tests are available for everyone.
“D66 uses it in the campaign and claims to be the only party with this ‘unique proposal’ to get out of the crisis,” said political reporter Ron Fresen. The cabinet is also discussing the dilemma of freedoms in exchange for vaccination. “But the decision about that will only come after the elections.”
What are the European plans?
The discussion is already difficult in a country with 17 million inhabitants, let alone for 27 countries with more than 440 million inhabitants. The EU countries that rely heavily on tourism have already made it clear that they are in favor of a corona passport. Cyprus said this week that vaccinated Britons are welcome again from May 1.
On March 17, the European Commission will present a plan for a corona passport. This ‘digital green pass’, as chairman von der Leyen calls it, is expected to contain the following three points.
- Evidence that someone has been vaccinated
- A test result for people who have not (yet) been vaccinated
- Or information that someone has recovered from covid-19
This plan is just the first step. The European heads of government then have to approve it and after that the European Parliament still has to agree. “We do not rule it out,” said Rutte on Thursday about the European corona passport. First, he wants to see, together with his EU colleagues, whether it is technically feasible. And then the discussion can start.