Ban on wearing face coverings in education and care sectors, public buildings and public transport

Today, the cabinet approved a bill put forward by Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk banning the wearing of clothing that covers the face in education and care institutions, public buildings and on public transport.

The bill introduces clear, uniform rules on clothing that covers the face. In principle, people in the Netherlands have the freedom to dress however they wish, regardless of the opinion of others. This freedom is only restricted in situations where it is essential that people can make eye contact in the interests of security or good service. This is the case in education and care institutions, public buildings and on public transport. The government has a responsibility to take regulatory action to prohibit the wearing of face coverings in these situations. Rules to this effect are already common practice in many places.

The government has sought to strike a balance between the freedom of people to dress how they wish and the importance of face-to-face communication. The government sees no grounds for a general ban on wearing face coverings in all public spaces, and has withdrawn the previous government’s bill to that effect. The new bill implements an aspect of the second Rutte government’s coalition agreement.

Anyone contravening the ban may be fined. Face coverings may however be worn in the interests of health or safety, in order to practise certain professions or sports, or to participate in cultural or festive activities. In care institutions, face coverings may be worn in private quarters.

The government has agreed to send the bill to the Council of State for an advisory opinion. The text of the bill and the advisory opinion will be made public when the bill is introduced in the House of Representatives.