Amsterdam, Rotterdam prepare for mandatory face masks in certain areas
On Tuesday, Amsterdam and Rotterdam are putting up signs to inform residents and visitors where face masks will be mandatory from Wednesday. The obligation to wear a mask applies to everyone aged 13 or older in both municipalities. Free non-medical masks will be handed out in affected areas during crowded periods
Violating the mask obligation in Amsterdam could lead to a 95 euro fine. The mask rule will apply to the Kalverstraat and Nieuwendijk shopping streets, and also the Wallengebied, an area in the city center that stretches west from the Warmoestraat up to Nieumarkt, includes the Red Light District, and from Prins Hendrikkade in the north with the Damstraatjes as the southern edge. In these areas, the obligation will be enforced 24 hours per day, every day of the week. The mask rule will also be in effect during market hours on Plein '40-'45 and Albert Cuypstraat.
The area may be expanded in the future, and the city said it will re-evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot program in three to four weeks. Shops in these areas will be given posters regarding the mask obligation to put up in their stores. During busy weekends, extra workers will be on the streets to remind people to wear masks and hand out free masks to those who do not have one.
In Rotterdam, the mask obligation applies to shopping areas in the city center, including Lijnbaan, Meent, Nieuwe Binnenwegplein and Coolsingel, at the markets in Delfshaven, Afrikaanderwijk, and Binnerotte, and the roofed shopping centers Alexandrium and Zuidplein. The measure applies from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. For the markets, the mask obligation only applies on market days. City officials will be handing out free non-medical masks at these locations on Wednesday.
People who do not wear a mask in the applicable Rotterdam areas can be asked to leave, or may be fined. Rotterdam will also keep the face mask rule in place for up to four weeks before taking another look at how well the system works.
In both cities, the mask rule is only for people on the streets and in shops, and does not apply to catering facilities, museums, casinos, gyms, private homes, offices or sex work locations. National measures already apply in these places with the goal of curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
Both municipalities stressed that the mask obligation comes on top of - and not instead of - measures already in place, such as social distancing and the instruction to avoid crowds.
Ahmed Aboutaleb, mayor of Rotterdam and chairman of Veiligheidsregio Rotterdam-Rijnmond, is pleased with this experiment. "In my view, masks can increase the urgency in some places, in addition to the golden rule of keeping 1.5 meters apart, hygiene measures and enforcement. We are ready to start the experiment and hope it helps people to stay safe in the city and keep enough distance from each other."