This week, all 17 party leaders of the newly elected Dutch government met with the Minister of Interior Relations, Kajsa Ollongren, to discuss the new formation of the Dutch cabinet. Today, Ollongren tested positive for coronavirus.
The task of organising the layout of the new Dutch coalition is no small one, especially when there are 17 separate parties involved.
Minister Ollongren from D66, along with Jorritsma from the VVD, had been given the job of “scout”, meaning that she was involved in the process of determining what the new Dutch cabinet will look like.
In order to do this, Ollongren and Jorritsma met with all 17 party leaders — in person — for discussions throughout the past week. She was also present at the Council of Ministers last Friday.
Coronavirus regulations followed but still a risk
There had been some discussion as to whether the talks should be carried out in person, especially once the Outgoing State Secretary of Economic Affairs, Mona Keijzer, tested positive for coronavirus last week.
Minister for Health, Hugo de Jonge, was also asked to remain at home for a few days after voting last week. The public have expressed annoyance at the cabinet’s continued insistence to not work remotely themselves.
However, the decision was made to lead the coalition talks in person. While the meetings had been held in accordance with coronavirus regulations, concern remains as the meetings were held behind closed doors for more than 15 minutes.
Dutch minister and 'coalition scout' Ollongren tested postive for corona. This is after meeting up in person with virtually all of Dutch political leadership and after numerous calls from outsiders to move their meetings online and WFH. I guess it's "do as we say, not as we do"
— Abuzer van Leeuwen (@AbuzervL) March 25, 2021
Political reporter, Fons Lambie, tells RTL Nieuws that all party leaders are at risk. “They have been in the same room for more than fifteen minutes. Although at a distance and in compliance with the corona rules, all the party leaders and half the cabinet have been near her.”
Misschien dat na het positief testen van 3 kabinetsleden (van wie Ollongren de afgelopen dagen alle fractieleiders heeft ontvangen) het in Den Haag ook doordringt dat Zoom vergaderingen een mogelijkheid zijn?
— Lammert de Bruin (@lammert) March 25, 2021
Rutte tests negative, talks put on hold
It is not known where Ollongren contracted COVID-19. However, Prime Minister Rutte has had yet another lucky escape, according to RTL Nieuws, he has since tested negative for the virus.
The talks have now been delayed as a new “scout” must be found to replace Ollongren while she is gone for at least the next 10 days.
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