Posts Tagged With: Coronavirus

Bizarro world (Or: Changes at the movie theatre)

Do you want to read something really bizarre?

Pathé sluit alle shops en buffetten: bezoekers mogen zelf eten meenemen from filmvandaag.nl [Pathé movie theaters close all shops and buffets: viewers can bring their own food in]

Of course, it is completely logical that the movie theatre chain is required to close shops and buffets, since restaurants and cafés are closed right now as well. And before you start hoping you can bring in McDonald’s or a full pizza, Pathé did say by “snacks” they meant popcorn and chips. Darn.

A bit less bizarre, more “lucky”:

Ypres chestnut tree battered but unbowed by wars wins Belgian award from theguardian.com. Short story: 160 year old tree survives repeated bombings during WWI. It grows back with four separate trunks (!). It then avoids being chopped up and turned into firewood during WWII.

The Netherlands also has their own award: De boom van het jaar (The tree of the year). Check out the trees that were nominated last year. I think my pick has to be the 9th tree, from the Overijssel province. I mean, the tree even goes through the roof of a tiny house. To clarify, it is not a house anyone lived in, but rather a tiny “house” that was used to bake bread apparently.

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New Uniqlo store in The Hague (Or: A mini Japanese garden)

A new store has opened up where Marks & Spencer used to be – Uniqlo, a clothing store originally founded in Japan. The inside looks completely different. Where the escalator used to be there is now a set of stairs. And a mini Japanese garden…

The sign on the wall reads: “Honoring The Hague, known for being one of the greenest cities of The Netherlands, a real garden has ben recreated at the heart of the UNIQLO Grote Markstraat store. Inspired by the traditional Japanese Garden at Park Clingendael, the garden incorporates true Japanese elements such as bonsai trees and green moss, perfect for a serene setting. At UNIQLO, we are committed to maintaining the planet and producing clothing in a way that is harmonious with nature, without excessive burden on the environment. To discover more about UNIQLO’s environmental initiatives, visit the sustainability area on the 1F.”

The reason I came to Uniqlo was to see if they were selling their reusable face masks in the store. After a few weeks of wearing single use face masks I decided it was time to move on to reusable ones. Hopefully ones that fit better than the one-size-fits-all face masks I have found until now. I’ve been crossing the bands before placing them around my ears to try and get them tighter, but it isn’t perfect.

Uniqlo’s face masks are sold in small, medium and large, in the colors white, grey and black. I’ve seen a few recommendations about how comfortable they are, so hopefully I can try them out in the next day or two.

(Side note: You can see the face mask display to the left of the stairs in my photo.)

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The Hague in the international news (Or: How dumb can you be?)

Late last night I saw a story on Omroep West, a local news website, with a link to this video on Twitter:

The video is from a BBC correspondent. It shows Dutchies partying at 21:35 last night, right before the partial lockdown went into effect, closing restaurants for four weeks. Sure, let’s get some dance music going and have a great old time… That’s perfectly fine. Idiots. The craziest part? This is at the Plein in The Hague, which is literally at the doorstep of the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives). Politicians were discussing the particulars of emergency corona law at the same moment these folks were partying right outside.

The owner says it was a combination of the wrong music, saying goodbye to restaurants and cafés, and emotion (omroepwest.nl article in Dutch). There is also an article in English at nltimes.nl: Parties held outside parliament as Dutch pubs close for lockdown.

On a related note: Berlin gives middle finger to anti-maskers in tourism agency ad from theguardian.com. It is exactly what you think it is. Though I try not to pass judgement on those without a mask, since there are valid reasons that someone cannot wear one. But I reserve the right to roll my eyes at people who have a mask on but do not wear it correctly. No, I don’t want to see your nose right now!

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Alcohol versus drugs (Or: Differences during partial lockdown)

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, normally it is perfectly fine in the Netherlands to have alcohol outside (both in your possession and to consume it). Of course, there are some exceptions – the decision is made by each city and written into their rules. But the Dutch government said yesterday that during the partial lockdown you are not allowed to buy alcohol after 20:00 and you can be fined for having it in your possession or consuming it outside after 20:00.

Originally the same rule applied to soft drugs (5 grams or less of marijuana, weed, that kind of stuff) during the partial lockdown, but various news outlets are now reporting that the rule has been lifted for soft drugs because it contradicts the already existing rule about soft drug use. So it is again legal to have and use a (very small) amount of soft drugs after 20:00, but not drink alcohol outside. See also this article in Dutch from parool.nl. This country is a bit weird sometimes!

I will also note that dutchnews.nl has a nice article about why there is such a legal issue with making face masks mandatory and handing out fines for skipping quarantine. Spoiler alert: even emergency laws are not allowed to restrict fundamental rights as laid out in the Dutch constitution, so an act of parliament would need to be passed.

And for something light-hearted: Lichtjesavond Delft gaat door met thuispakket en live-uitzending from omroepwest.nl. In other words, Delft’s December light festival will go ahead without spectators, but it will be shown live on TV. The festival is where a few thousand lights on a Christmas tree are turned on at the same moment. Think National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Oh, and if you really want to get into the spirit you can order an extra package with local products, chocolate milk, a game to play after the broadcast, etc.

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“Partial lockdown” (Or: New rules in The Netherlands)

As noted yesterday, new measures have been introduced in the ongoing fight against the coronavirus in The Netherlands. Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte called it an gedeeltelijke lockdown, or partial lockdown. The goal is to “limit social contacts and movement of people” to stem the tide of reported cases (today there were almost 7,400 new cases, double what it was a few weeks ago!).

The measures will last four weeks and in two weeks (from now) they will be analyzed to see if stricter measures are needed. The measures announced this evening will go into effect from 22:00 tomorrow night.

Some of the measures include:

  • Once Dutch law is updated in the near future, face masks will be required in all indoor spaces. The government is currently working on the law that can legally enforce this, so it won’t go into effect officially yet. For now it is is an urgent recommendation, but not a requirement, to wear one.
  • Hotel, restaurants and cafés are required to close. Takeout is still allowed, however.
  • The sale of alcohol is forbidden after 20:00, including in supermarkets. It is now illegal to drink or have alcohol in your possession outside after 20:00 (fun fact: in normal times, it’s perfectly legal to drink alcohol outside and walk around with it).
  • Koopavonden (or shopping nights) are no longer allowed. Generally in The Netherlands shops are open late one day per week (usually until 21:00). The rest of the time they close at 18:00 or 19:00. For The Hague that is Thursday evenings.
  • At the latest all stores should be closed by 20:00 every night, with the exception of supermarkets.
  • Amateur sport is not allowed. Youth up until 18 can train together and have games against their own team, but not with other teams. Individual sporting for adults is allowed, up to four sporters. Showers, changing areas and eating areas are closed. But (good for at least some of my colleagues) sports schools are still open for exercise.
  • You can only meet up with three other people that are not in your household per day. As an example, Rutte cited “block birthday parties” as something that is now forbidden – you can no longer invite three guests between 10:00-11:00, another three guests between 11:00-12:00 and so on.
Continue reading
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Waiting game (Or: Another press conference)

The measures taken a few weeks ago do not seem to work – today we had 6,854 reported cases. Of course, some of the cases are not recent. But most are, and the hospital numbers (ICU and non-ICU) are rising.

Tomorrow evening there will be another press conference with the prime minister and the health minister. There will definitely more measures added to the pile, but how strict they are remains to be seen. Some potential measures have already leaked, including possibly stopping amateur sports for adults and limiting group sizes even further, but until they are confirmed tomorrow evening it is anyone’s guess. So for now, we wait.

(For those of us who read Dutch, you can check out this opinion piece which pretends to be a possible speech Rutte might give tomorrow. It is most certainly not real, but for those of us who wonder when the heck the Dutch government will pass strict measures, it is an interesting “dark humor” read. See also this nrc.nl link. Again – it is not real, folks.)

If you do decide to stay inside until 2021, check out this fun game to play at home:

In other news:

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On to the weekend (Or: Supernatural and chili)

Friday! For dinner Marco made slow cooker chili. The recipe was from my old Cuisinart slow cooker that I had back when I lived in the US. We haven’t made this recipe in ages, but I am glad we finally did. It makes plenty of leftovers so later in the weekend or early next week we will have chili with tortilla chips. Yummm.

It almost felt like a normal Friday evening (in a non-2020 year): for the first time a long time we had a Supernatural episode to watch. Like many TV shows, this one went on hiatus after the corona crisis started, with only 7 episodes to go in the final 14th season. Most of our normal TV shows have not returned yet, so we are watching more shows via Disney+ or Apple TV these days (if you’re a gamer, I highly recommend Apple TV’s Mythic Quest).

In corona news, the prime minister said they wait until Monday to see if the situation improves (nltimes.nl). Otherwise I expect a press conference on Tuesday. The good news is that the government said they would also be working on a roadmap for corona measures, so that it is more clear what measures could be expected in various scenarios. It definitely feels like the government always reacts, versus acts.

There have been some anti-lockdown and anti-corona law demonstrations in The Hague in the last few days (everyone comes to The Hague to protest, since this is where parliament is). There were 15 arrests on Wednesday evening and 80 arrests yesterday evening (!). I walked past parliament this morning and saw a few people with signs outside the Tweede Kamer, although they were just standing around and not actively protesting yet. They probably still needed to have their coffee.

On a lighter note… Keukenhof (a massive tulip garden not far from The Hague and only open a few months of the year) started planting tulip bulbs for the 2021 season. By Christmas they need to plant 7 million bulbs – yikes!

I mentioned Keukenhof a few times earlier this year because the park never even opened before the crisis hit. Instead they created lots of videos and posted them to their website and YouTube, getting 22 million views (in a normal year they get about 1.5 million in person visits). If you want to see the videos they posted earlier this year, check out their YouTube channel and the “Keukenhof Virtually Open 2020” series.

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Up, up and up (Or: Not a reference to the Pixar film, sadly)

A side note, though: Pixar did recently post the opening minutes of the film Up on Twitter, if you want to watch a bittersweet video.

But my “Up, up and up” refers to the number of newly diagnosed corona cases. Just yesterday I posted that I was surprised to see us almost hit 5,000 cases (4,996) so quickly. Then the numbers for today came out: 5,831 cases (nltimes.nl). It does look like additional measures will be needed, but no one knows yet what those might be. At least the weather is still so cold and rainy that staying inside is less annoying…? But enough of the craziness for today.

Here’s a short Dutch lesson for you. If you want to say “in about 4 days” you can say een dag of vier. For a while I was translating that as one or four days. I was confused for a while there.

Een means either ‘a’ or ‘one’ depending on the context or emphasis. If you want to make it clear you mean ‘one’ you would write it as follows: één. It has a slightly different pronunciation then the indefinite article ‘a’.

Back to the present: Last week I was reminded of how confused I used to get when Marco said een uur of twee of drie. What? 1 or 2 or 3 hours? Which is it?! But eventually my brain caught up and spit out the proper translation: 2 or 3 hours. And all was well with the world again.

Random article of the day: I mentioned earlier in September that the carnival on the Malieveld was allowed to go ahead, lasting about a month with limits of 5,000 persons inside at any one time. I can understand if others want to go enjoy themselves, but you’ll notice I haven’t been anywhere near the Malieveld since it arrived.

But anyway, the mayor of The Hague received a cute miniature carousel horse from the carnival organization. It was a thank you for allowing the carnival to go ahead:

The mayor said he’s still thinking about where it can be placed.

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Just another rainy Wednesday (Or: Blanket weather)

I am currently sitting under my Mickey Mouse blanket. Marco got it for me a few years ago, probably from bol.com (aka Dutch Amazon). It keeps my toes warm, so that’s good.

During last Monday’s press conference Rutte and De Jong said the Netherlands would hit 5,000 infections by the end of this week, but unfortunately we’re pretty much at that point already with 4,996 infections today and more than 1,000 patients in the hospital (article in English from nltimes.nl). That’s about 500 more infections than yesterday. We have a few more days before we would see the effects of last Monday’s additional measures. If we do not see a “flattening of the curve” soon then I expect more measures imposed early next week.

Most of my adventures outside lately are confined to going to the grocery store and back, the earlier in the morning the better. It does mean that work and not-work have been bleeding into each other a bit, but on the plus side work has been a bit more forgiving the last few weeks. I’m also in the middle of reading two novels in English. One is Stephen King’s The Institute and the other is Mariko Koike’s The Graveyard Apartment. Both feel nice and creepy / spooky, perfect for October.

And since we need something a bit more positive today, here’s an article from Omroep West (in Dutch) about dogs being allowed into a local museum. For one day only, on Animal Day, for a special dog-themed exhibition:

The article includes a video with lots of tail wagging dogs. Check it out. You can also read more about the Being human exhibit at the Fotomuseum’s website (link in English).

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Rainy days (Or: October is upon us)

Rain rain rain. That’s all it does these days. It’s cold and wet and dreary and (even without the corona issues) it would be the perfect time to stay inside.

This morning I searched my drawer for an appropriate sweater to wear. I don’t have many – I found one, which is actually one more than I expected to find. I don’t usually wear sweaters, but maybe that will change now that I am at home and not in a climate controlled workplace. We’ll see…

Some interesting things I came across today:

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

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