Destinations

Netherlands introduces new clothing laws for public spaces

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

The Netherlands has approved legislation that bans face-covering clothing, including the burqa and niqāb, in certain public spaces.

Travel Weekly understands the legislation entered into force as of 1 August and the ban will require face covering clothing be removed in particular spaces, including public buildings like schools, hospitals and on public transport.

SBS reported that between 200 and 400 women in the Netherlands who wear a burqa or niqāb stand to be effected by the ban.

The broadcaster added that the contentious law was passed in June 2018 after more than a decade of political debate on the subject.

Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch far-right Party for Freedom and an outspoken opponent of Islam, reportedly proposed a face covering ban in 2005.

Erik de Feijter, a spokesman for the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, told Travel Weekly the ban would take effect in public spaces where “it is essential that people can make eye contact or where a covered face would hamper communication”.

“In other locations and out on the streets, clothing that covers the face can still be worn, although police may (already) ask to remove this to facilitate identification,” he said.

“It is important for service provision and security that people can recognise each other and can make eye contact.”

Travel Weekly was also told the ban will effect visitors to the country, with travellers to the Netherlands now required to remove any face-covering clothing in schools, hospitals and on public transport.

However, the Dutch public transport sector has reportedly said it would not stop to make a woman in a burqa get off as it would cause delays, while hospitals have also said they would still treat people regardless of what they are wearing, according to SBS.

De Feijter presumes further public information on the ban will be released in languages other than Dutch, but did not provide a time or source for when and where travellers can expect to find it at time of writing.

Belgium, Denmark and Austria have similar laws already in place.

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