After much debate in the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer), the Dutch government has decided to enforce a travel ban for India as a result of the high number of coronavirus cases the country is currently facing. The ban will come into effect at 6 pm on Monday.
Dutch government to enforce coronavirus travel ban
Last week, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge faced pressure from his fellow ministers after deciding not to enforce a travel ban, defending his decision at a debate in the House of Representatives. But, on Sunday evening, he appeared to change his mind.
In a statement, the cabinet wrote “the government wants to prevent the Netherlands from becoming a preferred option for passengers from India to enter the EU. The decision follows partly on the basis of urgent advice from the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM).” The Dutch Minister for Infrastructure, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, is enforcing the ban on the behalf of De Jonge.
The ban will apply to all passenger flights and will remain in place until at least 00:01 am on May 1. Cargo and flights with medical personnel will still be permitted to land at Schiphol airport. Currently, around seven flights from India arrive in the Netherlands every day, with most passengers transferring onto another flight.
The Netherlands offers financial aid to India
Over the past few days, India has reported over 300.000 new coronavirus cases every day. Along with a number of other countries, the Netherlands has pledged aid in order to support the country in its fight against COVID-19. The government had already donated 40 million euros to the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access programme (COVAX), part of which has been used to support India.
On Sunday, the government announced it would donate 2,5 million euros to the Red Cross, one million of which will go directly to India. The Indian Red Cross provides a number of vital services, keeping the population informed and up to date, carrying out testing and vaccinations across the country, and providing oxygen, protective equipment, and additional medical personnel.
Sigrid Kaag, leader of D66 and Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, said the Netherlands was continuing to look into other ways to support the country: “It is heartbreaking to see the consequences of corona in India. We sympathise with the government and people of the country and in this way, we want to help alleviate the need somewhat.”