There was a press conference yesterday evening, as always with the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and the Health minister Hugo de Jonge. This press conference was to discuss the next (hopeful) steps.
Set in stone:
Higher education will be open from 30 August, with no social distancing
Lectures are limited to 75 students maximum (to prevent large outbreaks)
Testing is encouraged but not required
Possible, if all goes well, from 20 September:
Social distancing is no longer required anywhere (but can be practiced if desired)
Face masks are no longer required on public transportation (which means they are not required anywhere, although hospitals and corona test centers would probably still want to keep the rule in place for some time)
Businesses that want to have more than 75 guests can use the Coronacheck app. This app generates a QR code which displays a green check mark if the user is vaccinated, has a recent negative test result or has had corona in the last 6 months.
The strong advice to work from home where possible will be removed (they removed it for a few weeks in late June but it quickly came back during the last wave)
This will be decided and announced during a press conference on 17 September.
Possible, if all goes well, from 1 November:
Night clubs / dance clubs will be allowed to open again
The CoronaCheck app will no longer be needed for domestic use
All Covid-related measures will be dropped except for the base rules (hand washing, staying home if you have corona-like symptoms, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, etc.).
The government has also launched a website, prikkenzonderafspraak.com (vaccination without appointment) for anyone who has not made an appointment yet. The website lists the sites that are open without appointment so that people can walk in at a time convenient for them and get vaccinated. You then book an appointment for the second dose.
I think there is a good chance that 20 September goes ahead, but it remains to be seen if all measures can be lifted on 1 November or not. The government’s reasoning is that everyone 12 years and up has had a chance to make an appointment, and that at some point we need to go back to “normal”. The main worry is that the 1.8 millions adults who don’t yet have a vaccination would all end up in the hospital in the fall, putting too much strain on the hospitals. We will have to wait and see. I do expect the numbers to start going up again–there is no way around it as measures are being lifted. However, hopefully the numbers will keep decreasing until 30 August when higher education opens up again so that the numbers are lower in mid-September.
The video is about 2 and a half minutes, or there is a 10 minute 4K version on YouTube (link). If you keep an eye on the map in the lower right you can see where the boat currently is.
And how is the camera so high up? It is not a drone. The tugboat you see in the image is pulling a large structure, and the camera was placed on the structure. See also this image (thetimewriters.com).
Finally, if you watch the shorter video above (Reddit), you’ll see a retractable bridge at 1:56. Kind of cool.
I’ve posted a few times about the small “alleyway” street that goes by the name Bagijnestraat, not far from the Tweede Kamer. My favorite post was about the art on a garage door last May. Actually, if you click on that blog post link you will see just how many bikes are cluttering up the alleyway… which is the subject of today’s post.
A few months ago Marco, Roger and I cut through this alleyway and we noticed the “no bikes here” signs for the first time. Each sign is in a different language. For example, here is Spanish (no bicicletas aquí):
But – kind of funny, here is the German sign (wo ist der bahnhof?):
That doesn’t say “no bikes here” in German. It actually says “Where is the train station?”. That is a reference to a 1985 short, satirical Dutch film by the same name (the actual skit is only 2 minutes). Read more at this vpro.nl link (in Dutch). It is a common joke between Marco, Roger and I: “wo ist der bahnhof? …do is der bahnhof.”(Where is the train station? There is the train station!) See also the 2 minute skit at YouTube in Dutch.
As you can see, there are also plaques with a poem in the alleyway. Here is the start:
If walls had ears / and streets could cry / then resonating in the Bagijntje [street] / is an endless story. Of course it sounds better in Dutch!
Formula 1 is coming back to the Netherlands this year, the first time since 1985. It will be held in the dunes of Zandvoort. The race should have happened last year, however due to Covid-19 the Dutch Grand Prix organizers decided to pull out of the racing schedule rather than have a race without fans. Fast forward to this month, where the organizers are (cautiously) planning for 105,000 visitors a day on 2, 3 and 4 September.
My favorite part to read about is the preparations the national Dutch train company has put in place for this event. At the moment 2 to 6 trains arrive in Zandvoort (a beach town) every hour. During the F1 event, 12 trains will arrive every hour, one every 5 minutes. In that way 10,000 people can be transported to the race every hour. That infrastructure did not exist before the F1 deal was signed; it was built in the last few years. During the race weekend the area will all but be inaccessible by car – you would need a special pass to reach it, even if you are just trying to visit the beach. So, the train is definitely the way to go.
Zandvoort preparing for Grand Prix despite Covid restrictions from nltimes.nl. There is of course a bit of uncertainty in the air, since last minute Covid restrictions could put a stop to the plans to be at full capacity. Since the Grand Prix is categorized as a sporting event and everyone has assigned seating, being at full capacity is currently allowed. That might change between now and the beginning of September, depending on how the Covid situation develops in the Netherlands. At the moment cases are decreasing at an average of 40-45% per week, so that is very good news. But you never know.
Okay, I do remember summers being colder back when I first moved to the Netherlands back in late 2012. But after that it was a handful of years with warm (or even hot) summers and a distinct lack of rain. Rain seems to be a lot less annoying these days, considering we are working from home so often. You usually don’t have to be somewhere at a certain time. So that is a plus for this weird year. I am not looking forward to the first commute in pouring rain. Or running for the tram and still missing it.
Back in June, the Netherlands decided to vaccinate all sailors who were Dutch or flew on a ship under a Dutch flag at Rotterdam’s harbor. This week the program has been expanded to any sailor, regardless of whether they are Dutch or on a ship flying under the Dutch flag. Ten thousand J&J vaccinations have been set aside for this two month pilot. See also this article in English at nltimes.nl.
And for the “opps” category: Brandweer redt vrouw die huissleutels was vergeten en op dak was geklommen from nu.nl, obviously in Dutch. The fire department had to rescue a woman who had forgotten her keys and climbed onto the roof to try an attic window. Unfortunately for her (or fortunately every other day) the window was locked and she was too scared to climb down afterwards. Her neighbors called the fire department to help her get down.
Today is Black Saturday. That is the busiest day of the year on European roads, especially in France. Around lunchtime today the busiest road in France, the Route du Soleil, saw travelers waiting in a 6 hour traffic jam (article from nos.nl in Dutch). This happens because most Europeans travel south for vacation, Parisians now also have vacation, and the first group of vacationers are now traveling back north. Travelers think if they leave on Friday evening they will have better luck. But no: there was also a 1,000+ kilometer traffic jam then.
In other news: Amazon is slowly increasing its presence in the Netherlands (article also from nos.nl in Dutch). For some years amazon.nl was only a place to buy Dutch e-books from Amazon. In early 2020 amazon.nl became the “traditional” website. They have now opened a distribution center outside of Schiphol airport. Bol.com (what I always refer to as the “Dutch Amazon”) still has three times the market share, however. They also have pickup points at Albert Heijn grocery stores which is a big plus for me.
Here is a photo of the Plein 1813 monument just outside of The Hague’s city centre. If you take tram 1 to the Scheveningen beach you will ride past it, as the tram lines pass by on either side.
The slightly darkening clouds are a bit of a warning for the weather this week, although this photo is from a few weeks ago. It rained and thundered so long yesterday that I delayed my near-daily trip to the grocery store until after work. There was one moment of thunder – hitting right as I stood by a slightly ajar kitchen window – that made me jump. In a good way. Today it poured while Marco and I were making dinner, and it provided a lovely backdrop of noise. But there is more rain than not this week, with cooler temperatures hanging on for a while. It’s a bit crazy to realize when parts of the US are experiencing temperatures closer to 36C (100F). We are lucky if we hit 20C (68F).
In other news, all from the English site dutchnews.nl this time:
On Alexanderstraat, a street in The Hague, you have the Koninklijke Nederlandse Maatschappij ter bevordering der Pharmacie. Oh, what a mouthful. Translated that is the Royal Dutch Society for the Promotion of Pharmacy, an organization for pharmacists.
But what I always notice is the lovely garden outside the front door:
Their name is so long you can’t even properly fit it into one photo:
Marco and I watched the opening ceremony for the Olympics on yesterday. I can definitely say that the time difference isn’t ideal. It started at 13:00, so good luck watching that properly and while trying to work. Most of the action happens after 02:00 and ends in the early afternoon. It definitely doesn’t feel like a true Olympics (also because there are a lot less fans attending). C’est la vie.
I am now fully vaccinated. I received my second shot (Pfizer) this afternoon. The location was less busy than when I received my first vaccination on 21 June, but that week the Netherlands vaccinated just under 1.5 million people and this week there are around 1 million appointments. I think the main difference is that there are less people getting their first shot and more getting their second, but vaccine deliveries could also be playing a small part.
We still have at least 3-4 weeks to go at this rate, if you consider that the Netherlands opened vaccinations to the general population based on birth year. I’m 38, so there’s still at least 20 years behind me waiting for their second shot. If you also consider that vaccinations were only recently opened to 12-17 year olds, you could imagine this going on for another 2-3 months at a reduced rate.
Above is the sign by the vaccination location, the Broodfabriek in Rijswijk. Literally translated as “the bread factory”, which it used to be years ago. In recent years it is an event center and this year it is rented out to The Hague’s Public Health department for the vaccination program.