Jam-packed Red Light District giving residents new angst

Red Light District, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Red Light District, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsJase EssUnsplash

Residents in Amsterdam expressed shock and concern when confronted with an overcrowded city center over the weekend. De Wallen, home to the city's Red Light District, was extremely busy, neighbors told broadcaster AT5.

"I am quite anxious here in Amsterdam, but I am not wearing my mask because nobody does that here," a Belgian woman told the broadcaster. She and her friend were very surprised by the lax attitude in the popular tourism spot.

"In Germany people are very aware of the distance between each other, and there is also a lot of fear among the people. But here it is as if coronavirus does not exist," a German tourist said.

Yet ten Hoorn lives near the Oude Kerk, and said it was impossible to keep a physical distance of 1.5 meters in her neighborhood. She enjoys the bustling, crowded square where she lives, but was growing increasingly concerned over social distancing rules being ignored. "I'll walk the dog with a mask on," she said.

Her photos taken around her home over the weekend showed people jammed into the narrow streets. The images looked like any other summer day, with men and women slowing to a crawl in front of the sex workers standing in the windows.

She said she could not understand why the city's signs promoting social distancing in the neighborhood were only written in Dutch. "Tourists often have no idea what it says."

Simon Baker, another resident, added, "I am a nurse and I just want to be able to behave responsibly on the street." He said he has already found a bag of white powder ditched in his plants.

Ten Hoorn found discarded laughing gas cylinders in the flower bed next to her home. The two said it was another sign that the typical city center tourism was restarting.

Amsterdam was not the only place in the Netherlands where overcrowding was problematic over the weekend. In Groningen, images acquired by broadcaster RTV Noord showed people standing shoulder-to-shoulder in bars which were packed to capacity.