costs 249 million eurosThe capacity for Testing for Access is only used for ten percent, yet the Netherlands is going to build a whole series of new test streets for holidaymakers for tens of millions of euros. For fear of the possible legal consequences, travelers who want to be tested for free will soon not be able to use the existing test streets.
Those who go on holiday in July and August can have themselves tested free of charge prior to that trip, ministers Van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure) and De Jonge (Healthcare) write in a letter to the House of Representatives. People who have already been vaccinated, but want to be tested to be sure, are also welcome. The cabinet suspects that a maximum of 3.5 million people will do so. EUR 249 million is being earmarked for this. This concerns both PCR tests and the (faster) antigen tests.
Some of those holiday tests, a maximum of 35,000 per day, will be borne by the GGDs. They have space to spare, because there are fewer and fewer people with corona complaints who need to be tested. In addition, holidaymakers who arrange a test themselves through their travel agency can also be reimbursed for these costs. The travel organization must then submit the receipt to the ministry.
New test streets
But those two ‘tracks’ are not enough. The cabinet will also set up a new series of test streets under the heading Testing before Departure. A public tender was launched last week for which commercial companies can submit a bid.
This is special because such a (free) test system already exists in the Netherlands: Testing for Access. The Dutch have to go there who want to visit major events where entrance tests are mandatory. This applies, among other things, to the 16,000 fans who go to matches of the European Championship football in Amsterdam. However, this site recently reported that only about ten percent of the capacity of Testen voor Access (75 locations throughout the Netherlands with a capacity of 225,000 tests per day) is actually used. The Testing for Access system costs about 700 million euros.
If the capacity were used for passengers, this could lead to possible irregularities in the tender de
Fear of legal proceedings
But those poorly occupied test streets will soon be unavailable to travelers. “Following media reports about unused test capacity in ‘Testing for Access’, it has been investigated whether this can be used for testing travelers. From a legal point of view, however, this is not possible, because the target group ‘travellers’ was not included in the tender procedure at the time,” the ministers wrote to the chamber. “If the capacity were used for travelers, this could lead to possible illegalities. in the tender.”
The ministers fear that test providers who did not register for the tender at the time will start legal proceedings. “After all, these test providers could not have known that it would not only be about testing for access, but also about the larger group of travelers.” However, it is still being investigated whether the unused antigen tests already purchased can be used for testing travelers.
Open Netherlands Foundation
It is also remarkable that the ministries have engaged the same foundation for help with the tendering for the holiday tests that also supervised Testing for Access: the Open Netherlands foundation, which is headed by ex-general Tom Middendorp. “Due to the very short time frame, an assignment was immediately given to the foundation without having to put out a tender. This part of the assignment may therefore be unlawful,” the ministers already concluded.
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