A Saturday morning like any other? (Or: Changing times in The Netherlands)

As you are well aware, most countries are taken precautions against the corona virus. On Thursday evening, the Dutch prime minister announced additional precautions which are currently in effect through March 31: where possible, work from home. No gatherings of more than 100 people are allowed. Universities and higher education institutions are closing their doors, but also trying to get online learning set up in the meantime. For now, the lower schools are still open.

Information from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and Environment (in English). Stats are updated daily around 14:00 CET.

Work from home if possible

While the press conference was held on Thursday evening, most of my coworkers and I did go into work on Friday. We received word late in the day that the office would be closed from 13:00 on Monday, with only supervised entry allowed between then and March 31.

We have Monday morning to get anything we need from the building, although most of us saw this coming and started bringing stuff home on Thursday. There were limited monitors available for people to take home, although they went fast.

In theory I don’t mind working from home. It’s doable, if not always comfortable. It’s not something I would willingly do, however. At least our company is pretty prepared – another office in a different country has already been closed for 5 weeks (!!).

I’m looking forward to going back in when this is all over, although there were a lot of jokes going around that we wouldn’t see each other for months. A few coworkers were flying back home (England, Spain, etc.) to be closer to family in the meantime. Their theory was they can work from anywhere and at least this way if they got stuck in a country it would be with their family.

No gatherings of 100 or more people

This decision is country wide. Some provinces have taken it a step farther and said that gatherings of 100 or more people would be punishable. Some aspects of daily life are affected that you wouldn’t expect: for instance the Central Library in the city centre is closed, because there are generally more than 100 patrons inside. For the moment the smaller branches are open, although all events are canceled through the end of the month.

Other events that are in jeopardy in the next few months are the Dutch Grand Prix (2020 was the first time it was to be held in The Netherlands since 1985) and the Eurovision song contest to be held in Rotterdam.

School openings / closure

The Dutch prime minister has faced a LOT of criticism for allowing the lower schools to stay open. His reasoning is that children are not the target age group for getting the virus and that it would bring the economy to a standstill. However, children can still be carriers… Either way, I suspect there will be a press conference on Sunday evening at the latest saying they are changing their mind and schools will be closed from Monday.

‘Hamsteren’ – frenzied stockpiling

Shortly after the press conference a lot of people went to the supermarkets and raided items like toilet paper, pasta, rice… ‘Hamsteren’ is a Dutch verb for what hamsters do, taking as much as they can and then more. The supermarket Albert Heijn was one of the harder hit. Yesterday on Twitter the posted this tweet:

It’s a message saying that they understand that some products are temporarily not available. They then go on to say that the distribution centers are full and that stores are supplied multiple times a day. They are working as hard as they can to keep the shelves stocked. If you’re on the AH mailing list you also received a longer email last night talking about the situation (both keeping the shelves full and disinfecting the store) to help put customers at ease.

Of course, it doesn’t stop people from stockpiling. Here’s a look at an Albert Heijn at lunchtime yesterday:

Still some potatoes left to grab, of course. Or harder hit, the toilet paper / paper towels area:

Who needs toilet paper. 🙂 It was also very busy in the store with lines everywhere. Not fun when you’re just coming in to get some lunch.

Marco and I went after work to another Albert Heijn and it was quieter. But by then the pasta, rice, eggs and most of the chicken were gone. Don’t get me wrong, though. There’s still plenty of food in the store. It’s the same thing that happens when a storm hits. It happens. It’s just hard for people to ignore the herd mentality of stockpiling. It’s hard for me to ignore, but that’s why I have Marco, who is much more logical than I am.

And finally, a video from Instagram/TikTok where someone splices over an Albert Heijn logo and the Albert Heijn theme song during some scenes of the movie World War Z:

Stay safe, everyone!

Categories: News, The Hague | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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