Rotterdam mayor wants more resources to enforce coronavirus measures

Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb of Rotterdam wants the government to give municipalities more resources to enforce government measures and advice against the spread of coronavirus Covid-19, he said on Nieuwsuur on Sunday. A contact ban - a prohibition on more than two people being outside together - could be on the table, the mayor said. "It would be a horrendous measure, but if these kinds of calls and measures do not work, this could come into the picture."

Dutch mayors will discuss this with the cabinet on Monday. "All options that can contribute to more enforceable behavior by our citizens, especially those who misbehave, are open to discussion," Aboutaleb said to the program. 

The government advised Netherlands residents to stay indoors as much as possible and to keep at least 1.5 meters away from others. Not everyone adhered to that on Sunday. The government had to issue a NL Alert, stressing the advice to stay home, as people flocked to spend a sunny day at popular good-weather areas like the North Sea coast, wilderness paths, and nature areas.

This also happened in Rotterdam, Aboutaleb said. "The image I got back from the police, safety office, and city surveillance is that people stayed home reasonably well, but not as much as I would have liked. I find that worrying," he said. "If 30 percent do not follow the instructions, it can cause insane misery. There is a form of nonchalance, 'it will not happen to me', especially with young people who play sports in a group. It is careless and undisciplined behavior."

In order to prevent crowds, many mayors closed beaches and playgrounds, although they "have no real legal basis for this," Aboutaleb said. "We didn't say 'forbidden to enter the beaches', but 'urgent advice to go home'. Then we also invented the trick of closing of parking spaces to discourage going to the beach," he said. "It shouldn't be like that. As a municipality you should be able to also say through the front door 'you shouldn't be there'." 

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