Amsterdam closing parks to stop illegal Covid parties; No face mask rule in Rotterdam
The four largest cities of the Netherlands will introduce new restrictions to enforce social distancing rules, and to cut down on the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus. In Amsterdam, local measures will include closing parks at night, creating more one-way foot traffic, and special opening hours of public facilities for the elderly and those in poor health. The municipal health service will also help create bespoke prevention plans for places where infections are more likely to occur, like schools, bars, and student associations.
"We must do everything we can to prevent a new lockdown," said Jan van Zanen, Mayor of The Hague. "The success in March and April was that everyone behaved responsibly."
"With the relaxation of rules in June, we collectively created a climate that made people think 'it is no longer urgent'. We have to change that," said Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb.
The restrictions were announced after a press conference on Friday in which Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge introduced a new three-tier warning system for the 25 security regions in the country. Six of those regions were elevated to Level 2, or "Worrisome", with measures introduced to close bars and restaurants there by 1 a.m., and to limit most group sizes indoors and outdoors to fifty people. The six regions cover the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Haarlem and Leiden, and the surrounding areas of those cities.
The Amsterdam-Amstelland Security Region said in a statement that it wanted people to be far more careful with social distancing and personal hygiene, especially in shops, sports canteens, and hospitality businesses. "By this we mean that people will always disinfect their hands upon arrival, and that they always keep 1.5 meters away," the regional authority said.
"We will only open public buildings such as libraries, district offices and swimming pools at certain times of the day to the elderly and people with poor health. We ask shops and museums to do the same," the security region said. It will also introduce promote social distancing with new marketing campaigns to specifically target young people, students, and others who might be less likely to follow the rules.
Parks will also be closed to prevent people from throwing illegal parties there, while other areas may be shut down during the daytime if they become too crowded. "Enforcement guards and police will continue to carry out targeted checks on places where people gather, such as party and meeting locations, cafes, restaurants and sports canteens," the authority said.
Special rules in Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht
Rotterdam's mayor said his region will begin enforcing coronavirus measures more strictly, particularly in markets and areas where young people gather. He said that for the time being, people will not be forced to wear masks again, "but I will not rule out that we reinstate it," Aboutaleb said.
The Utrecht Security Region will also take a similar approach to Amsterdam and Rotterdam, with a focus on more informative marketing campaigns. The regional authority will also expand its direct communication to cover trade groups, welfare institutions, youth counselors, immigrant organizations and retailers.
In The Hague and greater Haaglanden region, Mayor Jan van Zanen said the security region will discuss the situation with universities, other higher education institutions, student associations and sports clubs. "The purpose of the communication is for these groups to, again, see the urgency of complying with the rules," Van Zanen told Omroep West.
Van Zanen said that bars, restaurants, event halls, sports facilities and student associations will be subjected to targeted inspections. Businesses that violate the rules will get a warning for their first offense, and will be shut for two weeks on a second offense. Breaking the rules again means a one-month or three-month closure.
"We aren't doing this because we like it, but to ensure that the number of infections goes down," Van Zanen said. The Haaglanden region will also create special opening hours of public facilities for older people and those in poor health.
The Kennemerland region, which includes the City of Haarlem, and Hollands Midden, which includes Leiden, said they will take an approach combining aspects of the other regions. "We are committed to combating illegal parties in recreational areas. We will designate areas where people are not allowed to be present at night," the Kennemerland Security Region said. They were also going to work more closely with the education sector to create more customized plans where needed.