Nature reserves, parks fear surge in weekend visitors as spring arrives in NL

Local authorities across the Netherlands are showing concern over the potential for crowding this weekend and into next week as warm Spring weather arrives in northern Europe. The concern comes in spite of many nature reserve parking lots, dunes, beaches, parks and forests being closed-off to the public in order to prevent an influx of visitors and, by extension, the spread of the coronavirus.

This comes as Natuurmonumenten and Staatsbosbeheer, the two organizations responsible for protecting nature reserves in the Netherlands, called on the public yesterday to avoid visiting the sites they manage over the weekend. News broadcaster NOS reports that, in this way, the authorities hope to prevent large groups of people from going out into nature at once, wherein it would become difficult to ensure that people keep at least one and a half meters apart.

Some nature reserves have taken it upon themselves to shut their gates to visitors entirely, yet are still concerned that crowds will show up regardless.

Zuid-Kennemerland National Park near Haarlem, for example, famous for its large dunes, has barred visitors from entry this weekend over fears that the dunes there would attract crowds excited by the good weather arriving in the Netherlands. Despite closing and strictly supervising the grounds, park authorities are nevertheless concerned that people will disregard the government’s advice to stay home, reports local news service NH Nieuws.

According to Cees Roem, chairman at Zuid-Kennemerland National Park, the measures were taken due to the fact that there have been considerably more visitors who arrive on the weekends, leaving it difficult for visitors to abide by the rules.

Aside from places of nature, Dutch authorities are also monitoring locations where young people tend to gather. Skateboarding areas have been under closer supervision after reports surfaced that large groups of people had been gathering at an skate park in Vlissingen which was ultimately shut down.

Overnight, police in Borne also cracked down on a "screw corona" party, while authorities in The Hague raided a cafe which allegedly opened its doors for unlicensed gambling. There were over thirty people inside the small location when the police shut it down, according to Omroep West.