Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte stated that if it were possible, he would enforce a ban on all flights travelling to the Netherlands immediately.
This would be to stop all unnecessary travel — including holidays, reports Het Parool. Rutte expressed his frustration with how the Dutch people are behaving during the pandemic, flying to the Antilles for sun and the alps for skiing. “If it were up to me, there will be a flight ban now,” he says.
He calls these non-essential travellers “anti-social”, especially considering the threat of the new British strain of coronavirus.
The consequences of a complete travel ban
But Rutte admits that the price for such a ban would be high. “It has far-reaching consequences,” Rutte says. “Flying is also necessary to transport goods. Sometimes you have to deal with very serious private situations, which makes people want to travel too.”
Most freight cargo is transported in the belly of passenger aircraft, including healthcare materials. Schiphol is one of the largest hubs through which vaccines are being distributed around the world. Islands like Curaçao and Bonaire rely heavily on air freight for basic goods. Banning flights would thus cut many people off from much-needed supplies.
A ban would also damage flight companies like KLM, who are already relying on billions of euros from the government to stay afloat.
Is a flight ban even necessary?
All travellers arriving in, leaving from, or transfering through Schiphol must have a recent negative coronavirus test. As a result, the number of people infected at Schiphol is small. Of the 40,000 people passing through the airport every day, an average of only 15 people per day are infected there, according to the GGD. However, people who only become ill once they are home are not included in this statistic.
The concern, then, is that a travel ban would result in more negative consequences than positive ones.
Is a flight ban legally possible?
Due to the freedom of movement within the EU, imposing a complete travel ban would be difficult. However, the government can require that a negative test or vaccination certificate is necessary. But applying a ban to non-EU countries would be easier.
Regardless, for now, all Rutte can do is urge people not to travel until April.
What do you think of imposing a complete travel ban to the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments below.
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