The Netherlands relaxed some of their lockdown measures last night, with restaurants, cafés, movie theatres, museums, zoos and more allowed to be open again from 05:00 to 22:00. Stores are also now open until 22:00 (during the last lockdown they needed to close at 17:00).
As you can expect the latest relaxation of measures led to a huge demand for tickets to the latest Spiderman film (which only ran for three days here in The Netherlands before the lockdown started last month). Right after last night’s press conference (or perhaps while it was still going on) people flooded Pathé‘s website to order tickets. The virtual queue was over an hour long (!).
Above: a random photo of De Passage, a covered shopping area and also an important passage to get from point A to B. Usually it is crowded, so I always feel lucky to get a photo of it with no one else in the shot (this time I lucked out because it was fairly early in the morning and the stores hadn’t opened yet).
Here is a look at the Grote Marktstraat in The Hague’s city centre:
Off in the distance you can see a bit of mist. It was a bit cold, but not raining for once. Today was the first day that non-essentials shops are allowed to be open again, until 17:00. Corona cases are on the rise (the average is now around 31,000 cases a day) but hospitalizations seem to be okay for the moment. We will see.
Unfortunately restaurants and cafés will have to wait just a bit longer; they are still only open for takeout and delivery. The government said they would review the decision in about 10 days.
I did take advantage of the shops being open to buy the most boring stuff ever from Blokker – dish towels and descaler for the coffee machine. Quite boring indeed.
I received my booster shot earlier this morning. I feel pretty good, just a pretty sore arm and what feels like a light cold.
The appointment was by the World Forum (official website) in The Hague, a conference center. Apparently the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte also got his booster shot at the World Forum last week Thursday. The linked article is from ad.nl in Dutch but there are a few pictures to show you what the inside looked like. It was a different location than my first two vaccinations; those were at the Broodfabriek in Rijswijk (literally “bread factory” in English, although it was converted to an event hall years ago).
The location was fairly similar in setup to the Broodfabriek in Rijswijk. The main difference is that two people wait in the same area to get their vaccination; you can kind of see that in the first photo in the ad.nl article, although there the second chair is empty. This is useful because one person is getting their vaccination while the second person sits down, removes their coat, pulls up their sleeve, etc. And so the process repeats. All of this is done to try and get boosters administered as fast as possible (The Netherlands started late compared to other European countries so they have had to play catchup.)
Here is another example of more efficient methods: if you go to the Broodfabriek now for your booster, you receive a designated chair to sit at. The person giving the vaccination has a cart and they wheel the vaccinations to each person in the row (i.e. the person giving the vaccination moves around while the people receiving it stay put). This can be important in the case of The Netherlands as the health ministry recommended that everyone wait for 15 minutes after getting their vaccination before they leave. Not everyone does, of course, but it does make it a bit more efficient and limit movement. In my case at the World Forum I needed to move to a separate area called the “recovery area” before I could leave, so that is additional movement that the Broodfabriek doesn’t have with their setup.
Bonus: I got to see a rainbow on my way out.
The World Forum is behind me and not pictured. To the left is actually Europol, the European law enforcement agency. You can just make out the high fence on the left and the many obstacles alongside the road to prevent someone driving a car into this area.
Have a great weekend everyone. I am definitely looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow morning!
Marco took a photo of the Christmas tree in front of the Mauritshuis museum here in The Hague (official website in English). Since we are in a lockdown again, the museum is promoting their virtual museum, aptly called the Gigapixel museum. The museum is most known for having Vermeer’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring on display. Aka room 15, floor 2, in the lower right corner of the Gigapixel museum.
It must be December because the Christmas tree is back in De Passage! (aka The Passage, a covered shopping area in the city centre of The Hague).
The cool thing about De Passage is that is more of a triangle shaped hallway. As you can see above the tree is placed at the intersection of those three parts, so it is always visible when you enter.
Oh, and a few months back they did remove the greenery which was separating the walkway in De Passage (corona measures). Though I wouldn’t be surprised if it came back. Yesterday one of the local Albert Heijn supermarkets had a security guard posted outside the entrance checking that everyone was wearing a facemark and this evening a local Jumbo supermarket had a line of about 15 people waiting to get in, probably because they started putting a limit on the number of people who could be inside at the same time. I haven’t seen those measures since the first half of 2020.
Every first Monday of the month at 12:00, the test system goes off here in The Netherlands. It uses an air raid siren which always reminds me of my childhood. Why, do you ask?
The air raid siren sound that is used is the same sound that was used back in Chicago where I grew up. But there it was the tornado siren, warning of impending doom. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but not by much. You don’t ignore tornado sirens in the midwest of the United States.
But the last decade has brought a new sound into the mix during the first Monday of the month at 12:00 — your phone also bleats out a shrill sound about 4 or 5 times. The warning system is called “NL Alert” (crisis.nl in English). “Luckily” the telephones are only tested twice a year, in June and December. Now imagine my phone making that sound, and Marco’s phone, and Marco’s work phone… All. at. the. same. time. BEEEEEEEEEEP!
Oh, and the air siren was still going on outside.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s a very useful system. It was credited for helping save lives during the flooding in July of this year in the southeastern part of The Netherlands. It is also used locally if there is a large fire and nearby residents need to close their windows, etc. It it just so loud at times! And it makes me think there is a tornado coming…
Here is a look at the outdoor decorations at Bijenkorf here in The Hague (Bijenkorf is a high-end retail store). These lights and decorations go up every year. Actually the lights were already up when Marco and returned from the United States back in late October, although the window displays weren’t ready for a few more weeks.
And here is a look at some of the window displays. They change every year and usually draw a crowd (though less of a crowd this year and last year, of course).
It is hard to believe that it is almost December…
In the meantime, the current corona wave is still going strong, with intensive care units filling up. There was another press conference tonight, a week earlier than originally planned. Here is a look at the measures that go into effect Sunday morning, in English at government.nl.
There was another “noise” demonstration near Central Station this evening; the press conference is held in that area so the people outside try to make as much noise as possible to get heard on television. See also some images at regio.15 (text in Dutch). There were some pretty grim demonstrations last week so this time the military was present instead of the police. This demonstration went rather peacefully though, especially in comparison to the riots last week in Rotterdam (theguardian.com).
Unfortunately these beauties weren’t available when Marco and I traveled to America a few weeks ago:
It is a new offering from the Dutch grocery store Albert Heijn: a large kruidnoten (English Wikipedia) covered in lots of chocolate and sprinkles. They are quite delicious, but also quite hard. I fear a bit for my teeth. Considering Marco and I brought about six random flavors of kruidnoten to America, I think my parents and brother would have also appreciated trying this version. If only it had appeared last month…
In other news: corona cases have been rising since about 3-4 weeks ago. The rise started the week before our trip, so it was weird to see the numbers double in the single week we were gone. The Dutch cabinet held a press conference this evening to announce additional measures, a bit of a turnaround from their last package where they got rid of almost everything including social distancing. Highlights are:
the Dutch access pass (aka the CoronaCheck app) needs to be shown at more locations. You can receive an entry QR code if you are vaccinated, you tested negative for the virus in the last 24 hours or you have recently had corona. A valid QR code is now required for a café’s outside terrace (it was previously only required for dining inside). It is also required for events where seating is assigned and at gyms, museums, conferences, etc.
face masks are now required indoors for public locations which do not yet require the Dutch access pass (like supermarkets, libraries, amusement parks and retail stores).
booster shots will be given for people aged 80+ from December and for people aged 60+ from January 2022.
the advice is to work from home half of the time. For about a month the advice to work from home was completely removed, but as you can see that didn’t last long…
Last year it was a huge decision to let the oliebollen stands open a month earlier, on 1 October, due to missed income (no festivals were being held, etc.). This year they also opened a month earlier, from yesterday. But this was more of a surprise as it wasn’t splashed everywhere on the news. The stands are usually allowed to be open between 1 November and mid-to-late January as oliebollen is a treat for Christmas and New Years.
But it is good news to see that the stand is back in the city centre, at the end of the Grote Markt shopping street (across from the public library). And perhaps they will be allowed to stay here; they moved to this spot some years back due to the construction around the Amare building. But construction of the Amare building is complete (previous blog post) so that is a good sign for the oliebollen stand.