He quickly brushes his teeth next to the pump before getting back into his green camper van. Wim Boterman (55) has just crossed the border with his family at Hazeldonk in Brabant after a few weeks in France. “Oh, has something changed again?”, he wonders aloud about the newly introduced requirement to be able to show corona proof when returning from ‘yellow’ countries.
“I was on vacation, so I didn’t read newspapers.” His partner Aleida de Hoop (52) sticks her with a red cloth-wrapped head from the back along the front seats. “Yes, but I did know!” They both have a QR code as vaccination certificate – she checked it before the return trip.
On this gray Sunday morning, the rule applies for the first time that travelers returning from countries within the European Union with the color code yellow, including Belgium and France, must be able to show corona proof. On arrival in the Netherlands, they must have analogue or digital proof stating they have been fully vaccinated, have had Covid-19 in the past six months, or have taken a recent corona test in the holiday country.
The cabinet states that this measure can prevent the coronavirus from being taken back to the Netherlands. Anyone who cannot show corona proof when crossing the border risks a fine of 95 euros. The Marechaussee has announced that it will check this with random samples.
Used to and a bit morose
This kind of proof, color categories and QR codes sounded like something out of a dystopian science fiction film until recently, but since the pandemic many people have become used to them – they are also a bit groggy, you can notice at the first gas station after the Dutch border.
“I do have that app with me, but this really seems like a drop in the ocean,” says Jack (69), who prefers not to use his last name in the newspaper. He comes from Belgium, where he often comes for work. “How are you going to check this then? Abroad, I have the impression that this is being taken more seriously.”
There are indeed questions to be asked about this control. It is in any case remarkable that the Marechaussee only starts the random checks on Monday, while the rule took effect on Sunday. “For organizational reasons, that has been moved over the weekend,” said spokesman Mike Hofman on the phone. The Marechaussee previously reported that no extra manpower will be made available for this. There is also no warning or information sign about the new rule at the border crossing at Hazeldonk.
‘Compulsion towards vaccination’
Judith Smit (51) leans against her fully packed station wagon at the gas station, waiting for the husband and child who are in the roadhouse for a while. “Oh, have those rules come into effect today? I thought there wasn’t a check until tomorrow? Quite confusing.” When her partner Mark Hofhuis (48) comes out of the roadhouse, it appears to have just been on Belgian radio. “I miss the point,” says Hofhuis, who says he has no corona proof. “You may still be contagious with a vaccine, so what exactly is the purpose of these requirements?”
So if you are checked and pay a fine, you can just enter the Netherlands contagious
Danny Leij traveler
If it was really possible to keep the virus out, you would have to test everyone on arrival, he thinks. “And meanwhile, flights from India are arriving at Schiphol. The logic is increasingly lost, this feels more like a kind of soft compulsion towards vaccination.” Hofhuis and Smit both have problems with this, although they are not against vaccination in principle.
Also read: No vaccination obligation, yet the refuser feels the pressure increasing
More holidaymakers have difficulty with the logic of the new measures. “So if you are checked and pay a fine, you can just enter the Netherlands contagious,” says Danny Leij (36) who was in Antwerp for a weekend with his girlfriend Lisette Brinkkemper (34). “I sometimes think: it’s all or nothing.”
He has no vaccination certificate with him. “My vaccination has not been long enough for that. We thought, if necessary, we would pay that fine.” They both notice the difference with the much stricter Belgian attitude. “In Antwerp people also say: yes why do you think it is worse in the Netherlands?”
Keeping an eye on the rules
Natasha (49) and Fred (52) do not necessarily have to be called by their last name because of their privacy, although they both have vaccination certificates with them on their return journey from France with their two adolescent children. “Yes, we knew the proof was needed. Ah. What is needed is needed. When you go on vacation, you know that you have to follow the rules. But how does this prevent spread? Explain it to me.”
Other travelers at the gas station also sound a lot of resignation. “It does make you pay more attention,” says Reshma Gordeijns (42). She is talking to her boyfriend next to their car with a full trailer. They live near the Belgian border and often have to cross the border by highway. Officially, if they come from Belgium, they must also show a vaccination or test certificate. “That doesn’t change much for us.”
Since previous border closures during the pandemic, they have had to have a special statement that they often have to cross the border. Her friend takes a crumpled piece of paper from the glove box. “Such a corona proof can also be added,” they think.