Corona in Amsterdam – Week 1

by Tanja
Corona in Amsterdam

24 March 2020 – The Coronavirus has hit Amsterdam. From Monday 18 March 2020, all schools, restaurants and bars in the capital of The Netherlands are closed. All events until 1 June in Amsterdam are canceled. Read how the Amsterdam and the Netherlands are coping with Covid-19 in the first week.

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No lockdown in Amsterdam

  • The Dutch prime minister Rutte addresses the nation on live television on Sunday evening, 17.30. As of the next day, Monday 16 March, all schools in The Netherlands will be closed. Children whose parents work in ‘vital’ profession, like health care or police, may go to daycare.
  • Unlike most European countries there is no lockdown in The Netherlands.
  • Read more about the Dutch approach to dealing with the novel Coronavirus at the RIVM. The RIVM is the Dutch Institute for Public Health.

Coffee shops stay open

  • Rutte said that from 18.00 hours (6 pm) all bars, restaurants and coffeeshops will also be closed until at least April 6.
  • He also specifically names ‘coffeeshops’ in his speech. Within minutes, people are lining up in front of coffeeshops all over the country. But there are only 30 minutes left.
  • The rest of the evening, drug dealers pop up on the streets of Amsterdam to sell to customers who are left with empty hands.
  • The next day it is announced that coffeeshops are allowed to sell weed and hasj ‘to go’.
  • All events are canceled. People are advised to stay at home to stop the spreading of the coronavirus.
  • In the next few days more and more closings: Gyms, swimming pools, cinemas, sex clubs, nightclubs, and saunas are closed.
  • Everybody who can, works from home.
Nieuwmarkt Amsterdam
Nieuwmarkt, Amsterdam, during Corpona crisis.

‘Hamsteren’

  • Hamsteren‘, is the Dutch equivalent of stocking up. Just like in other countries around the world, supermarkets in Amsterdam are working hard to refill empty shelves.
  • Most popular items are hand sanitizers, toilet paper, pasta and eggs.
Hamsteren amsterdam
Care for each other and stop stocking up is the message in Corona times in Amsterdam.

Everything is ‘to go’

  • Food and drinks ‘to go’ are still allowed in Amsterdam so many cafés and restaurants try to start selling coffees and food to go. Even Michelin-star Rijks tried a delivery service of their menu.
  • The streets are filled with the delivery people on their electric bikes.

Social distancing in Amsterdam

  • Social distancing is introduced in The Netherlands. People may go outside whenever they want, but they must keep a distance of 1,5  meters from each other.
  • Public transport is running, but less frequent. Measures are in place to reduce the risk of infecting the drivers and conductors of trams and buses.
  • On 20 March, homes for the vulnerable elderly are closed for visitors.
  • Health care workers may park for free in Amsterdam so they don’t have to use public transport.
  • More info about the measures in Amsterdam in English on Amsterdam.nl.
Red Light District Amsterdam during Corona
The Amsterdam Red Light District is closed due to Corona.

Economic consequences of Corona

  • Almost all airplanes stop flying to and from Amsterdam. Dutch airline KLM is one of the biggest employers in the region of Amsterdam and in danger.
  • Small business are losing money and orders every day. The government announces financial support for all small business owners.

Amsterdam not taking Corona seriously

  • The first week of Coronavirus in Amsterdam is also the first week of beautiful spring weather. Many people have a stroll in the park. All in all, it seems to be hard for people to understand what the dangers of the virus are. The situation seems too surreal. Most people have not yet spoken to anyone who is actually ill. The dramatic scenes from hospitals in Italy seem from a film, or at least, far away.
  • If anyone has a reason to take the virus and the measures seriously, it’s the medical staff. Following the example in Italy and Spain, people sing and place signs to thank the care workers for doing such a great job.
  • Many health care workers react coldly to these signs of gratitude. They let know that would rather see people stay at home than sing songs.
  • Though many other European countries are in complete ‘lock-down’, the Amsterdam shops remain open for business. Gyms, pools, sex clubs and saunas are closed but many shops remain open and people continue shopping for goods and food.
  • Hotels are also still open.
Corona in Amsterdam
Most of the tourists have no left the city. With so little trams, planes and tourists, the streets in Amsterdam are empty.

Community support

  • There is a strong sense of community in Amsterdam. People are distributing flyers asking their neighbours to join the local Whatapp group. Here, people can ask and offer support to and from their neighbours. The goal is also to combat loneliness.
  • Amsterdam has come up with the phrase #ZorgVoorElkaar (‘careforeachother’,) to promote the local support groups.

More measures

  • The borders with Belgium and Germany are closed to help stop the spreading of the Coronavirus.
  • Friday it is announced that health care workers in Amsterdam can park for free.

A sunny weekend

  • During the sunny weekend, people flock to the beaches and national parks of the Netherlands.
  • In Amsterdam, hundreds of people visit the Amsterdam Bos, a woodland park between Amsterdam and Amstelveen, to see the famous cherry trees blossom.
  • The street markets on Saturday are also very crowded. In all these situations it is difficult to keep 1.5 meters distance.
social distancing amsterdam vondelpark
Social distancing in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark.

Stricter measures to control Corona

  • After the weekend, on Monday 23 March, the Dutch prime minister is back on television. In the new press conference, Rutte says he was disgusted to see the behavior of people: people socializing in public and risking a further spread of the disease.
  • From now on, people can be fined €400 if they don’t keep the necessary ‘social distance’.
  • Businesses must make sure people can keep a safe distance or they may also be fined €4000.
  • Beaches, parks and even markets can be closed on the order of the local mayor if there is a treat to public health.
  • All events and gatherings are prohibited until 1 June, even gatherings of less than 100 people.
  • All festivals and events in Amsterdam and The Netherlands until June 1 are canceled.

Amsterdam The Netherlands – Coronavirus in numbers

  • On 28 February, the first person from Amsterdam who is infected with the coronavirus is reported.
  • The virus is most active in the southern province of Brabant. Carnaval in February was celebrated heavily there, with thousands of people partying in the streets.
  • On 7 March, a 6th person was infected with the virus.
  • On 9 March, 7 people from Amsterdam tested positive.
  • On 11 March there are in total of 16 infected people in Amsterdam (tested).
  • On 14 March there were 31 people tested positive in one day. About a third were hospitalized.
  • On 16 March, 11 people were tested positive in Amsterdam. None are in the hospital. The total is now 90 people.
  • On 18 March there are in total 116 people tested positive in the region of Amsterdam. In total 19 people were hospitalized.
  • On 21 March a total of 136 people in The Netherlands died of Corona. Most were over 80 years old. In total 836 people are hospitalized in The Netherlands.
  • 23 March 2020: In The Netherlands there have been 4.749 people tested positive for Coronavirus. Among them, 1230 were hospitalized. In total 213 people died. They were between 556 and 97 years old. The average age is 82.

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