Posts Tagged With: Coronavirus

In the mist (Or: Grote Marktstraat with opened shops)

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.

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Pathé movie theatre (Or: Closed due to corona)

As noted, everything is closed at the moment due to the lockdown. With the exception of course of supermarkets, pharmacies and other essential stores. It doesn’t seem to help that much though, as the omicron wave has hit the Netherlands (nltimes.nl in English).

Here is a look at the Pathé movie theatre on the Spui:

In the background you can see the escalators leading up to the cashiers and theatres. As I blogged previously, at least we got to see Spiderman the day before lockdown started.

Of special note is the sign in the foreground: “We’ll be back… again and again”.

Categories: Daily Dutch living | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Rainbows and boosters (Or: World Forum in The Hague)

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!

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For those with an aversion to needles (Or: Time to bring in virtual reality)

If you don’t like the thought of the dreaded needle, you can request a special appointment to wear virtual reality glasses and headphones to distract you. At the moment the service is only offered at a few locations like Rotterdam, but they are looking to expand it.

Check out this tweet from Hugo de Jonge, the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport:

Hey, whatever works to get more people vaccinated.

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Back into a lockdown (Or: “Fun” in The Netherlands)

The Netherlands is officially back in a lockdown, as of this morning at 05:00. In the end it went pretty fast – I started hearing rumors on Friday evening, which intensified when I went to bed, and then there was an emergency government meeting Saturday afternoon and a press conference Saturday evening. Of course, everyone could see it coming after Friday night so the stores were packed on Saturday. Consumers rush to do last minute shopping; Rotterdam municipality asks people to avoid center from nltimes.nl.

Hard lockdown in this case means only essential stores (like the supermarkets, pet stores and pharmacies) and services (gas stations, libraries, notaries, lawyers’ offices) are open. See also rijksoverheid.nl in English for a full list of the lockdown measures. In this case services includes driving lessons and swimming lessons, two things that have a long, long waiting list due to corona. And considering The Netherlands is full of water, swimming lessons for children are quite important.

The good news is that The Netherlands have learned from previous lockdowns, so it isn’t quite like the first one. It is possible to order something online and pick it up by the door of a physical store (called “click & collect” here). Non-essential stores are also allowed to be open as package pickup points, although while they usually receive a small stipend for staying open from the delivery companies it generally isn’t worth it. Cafés and restaurants are also open for takeaway and delivery.

Group sizes are also further limited, inside and outside. Except for the holidays (24, 25, 26 and 31 December; 1 January) group size is limited to 2 persons. During the holidays it is limited to 4 persons. You are also not supposed to visit more than one household per day. Although that is a bit iffy since the police can only check things inside your home if they have a different, valid reason to be inside your home. So if you don’t make a lot of noise…

The interesting thing is that infections are also decreasing at the moment. Although they are very, very high still (higher than any wave before this one). But the lockdown is for the arrival of the next variant, omikron. While hospital admissions are decreasing, they are still also too high to deal with the upcoming variant. At the moment about 25% of the new infections reported in Amsterdam are omikron, and that percentage was already from a few days ago.

Here is a cartoon for you that sums up 2021 (although it is not 100% negative like it sounds):

How are we supposed to just keep going? What a long grim year, again – First Dog on the Moon, The Guardian

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Random find at the Asian store (Or: Instant coffee with…wait, what?!)

Have you ever had instant coffee?

Sure, we all have.

But have you had instant coffee with added vitamin C and collagen for clear skin?

No, I didn’t think so. Although a Google search for collagen coffee does lead me to believe it is more popular than I am thinking… So if you have, leave a comment with how it tastes.

In other news, I just read that the annual New Year’s Eve bonfire is cancelled again this year (omroepwest.nl, in Dutch). Same with the local Christmas market, which was cancelled a few days ago (royalchristmasfair.nl, in English). It is what it is – although it will be weird once we get a “normal” holiday season again.

Eindhoven [a Dutch city] has a creepy announcement warning people to keep their distance from dutchreview.nl. Eindhoven has promised to turn down the sound and play the message less frequently – at the busiest times of the day it was every 15 minutes!

The Dutch are testing a weirdly cute robo-dog in Rotterdam Centraal [a train station], also from dutchreview.nl. Very cute, even if it is expensive, priced at €100,000. Yikes.

Categories: Everyday purchases | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Riots against corona measures (Or: Another press conference)

As expected, things are getting worse before they get better in the Netherlands. For instance, our previous record was around 13,000 infections in a day, back in December 2020. We leapfrogged over that record last Thursday – clocking in at 16,300 infections (!), a jump of more than 3,300 in one day. The numbers will start getting limited by our current test capacity soon.

There was another press conference on Friday, with more measures added (official government website in English). Consider it a partial lockdown. We’re back to ‘work at home unless impossible’, with non-essential stores closing at 18:00 and essential stores like supermarkets and pet stores closing at 20:00. Cafés and restaurants also need to close their doors at 20:00. This will last until early December. Part of me thinks the government went straight for three weeks to ensure that stores would be closed in the evenings for Black Friday, which was definitely the start of our wave last year. At the moment there is no curfew, though.

The government also said that they were looked into a 2G approach versus the 3G approach we currently have for some things. The “G” comes from the Dutch verbs gevaccineerd, genezen of getest (vaccinated, healed or tested). The current measures are in place to give the government time to change the law to allow for 2G (vaccinated or healed) without the possibilities of getting tested to enter certain areas anymore. Although it also feels like the government is shifting some of the responsibility by stating that certain professions can go for either 2G and not have assigned seating or 3G with assigned seating.

As you can imagine this is a bit of a sensitive subject in The Netherlands. A few hundred people (or a bit more) decided to protest outside of the building where the press conference was held while it was being broadcast. And of course some people come with the intent to damage stuff, not just protest. You can see lots of images of the protest over at regio15.nl, in Dutch. For some reason people decided to vandalize a café (photo taken by me yesterday):

The owner figured something would happen and had moved all furniture inside by 15:00 on Friday, but that didn’t stop the vandalism. The damage for the glass wind screens was estimated at a few hundred euros, whereas the damage for the building’s window was around 10,000 euros (omroepwest.nl in Dutch). And how did rioters cause that damage, you ask?

Why, they literally pulled bricks out of the sidewalk, of course. Oh, and they also threw bricks and fireworks at the police. Who eventually turned a water cannon on them to get them to leave (see also the regio15.nl article linked above). Five people were arrested.

As usually happens in 2021, there is already a virtual donation started for the café owner (omroepwest.nl, in Dutch).

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Vegan time (Or: Who knew cactus could be delicious?)

This Friday Marco, Roger and I had dinner at FOAM in The Hague. This was one of the “first Friday of the month” special dinners. The theme was Mexican, with shared plates.

Unfortunately I am not the person to ask what all of this was. The images are in order that they were served. Some notes:

  • The third image with the cups was my favorite. It is actually a warm, spicy cactus soup. Delicious. I either want the recipe or I want it added to the lunch menu.
  • The fourth image is of mole tacos. It was interesting. I am not sure I have had mole sauce before. The only good way to eat it was with a knife and fork. It was still a bit messy, but doable.
  • The fifth (and largest) image is part of our main course. Not everything was pictured as some things arrived a bit later.
  • The last image is of the dessert. I have decided my palate is not refined enough. I keep hoping it is ice cream or cake or chocolate, but usually we get stuff like figs. It’s fine though, as it keeps it light.

Some other news:

Dutch coronavirus avg. nears 10,000; Covid hospital total close to 1,500 from nltimes.nl. This is not that great; we’re not that far from our record set last December and we’ve only just started November.

Thousands of people demonstrate against coronavirus policy in The Hague from nltimes.nl. This was this afternoon (from about lunchtime to 16:00). The estimated crowd was 20,000 to 25,000 demonstrators. While I was somewhat in the area today I didn’t need to be anywhere near the demonstration route. You can also see dozens of photos over at the local news site regio15.nl (in Dutch). Most of their anger is at the stricter rules – you now need to wear a face mask or show a QR code (vaccinated, recently tested or recently recovered) in public places.

Otherwise things are going well for Marco and I except that the weekend unfortunately flew by. However there is always next weekend forward to!

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Box of sweets (Or: Gift from my office)

Last week I received a surprise box of sweets from my office:

The box was put together by a company called Daniëlle kookt & zo (roughly translated as Daniëlle cooks and etc). One of their specialities is filled letters and numbers, each filled with either sweet or savory treats.

Mine is filled with brownies, macaroons, fudge, mini cookies, meringue and more. Delicious!

This gift is to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of our office opening in The Hague, as well as the reopening of the office on 20 September. Since March 2020 the office was closed; before you travelled to the office you needed to secure permission. Since last week the office is open Monday through Thursday and closed on Fridays for cleaning. We are using hot desking and have a desk reservation system to ensure that social distancing is adhered to. (Although today is also the day that the 1.5 meters rule is abolished in most places; in exchange you need to show your coronapas (corona pass) if you want to sit inside a restaurant or go to the movies, etc. Read more at dutchnews.nl in English.)

At the moment going back to the office is optional. Personally I plan on going back later in the year. Next year, in the new form of hybrid working, each department can determine how often its workers need to be in the office. The department I work has asked for us to be in the office at least 4 days a month, but which days those are are determined by each team and the individual worker. My employer has been very lenient in that regard.

I do miss the commute so I do plan on going in more often than the minimum requirement. Although there is something to be said for the quick commute from the bed to the desk…

Categories: Working & Volunteering | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Vondelpark in Amsterdam (And: Coffee by the river IJ)

When Marco and I arrived this weekend in Amsterdam, we decided to have coffee and lunch at a Bagels & Beans not far from the hotel. The location was on the river IJ, which meant beautiful views.

The empty seat in the photo would soon be filled by a father and his young daughter, though they hadn’t arrived yet. She was super cute (although at the age where she knew exactly what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to say it). One of things she wanted to do was blow bubbles in her juice, no matter what her father said. Unfortunately that fun stopped when she accidentally knocked the glass on the ground, shattering it. She was fine, not even crying, but she definitely quieted down after that.

On the way to Bagels & Beans we saw a plane flying past in the distance. Imagine my surprise when I saw the message:

“Stop the Corona hoax!”. Crazy. I suspect this is quite normal for Amsterdam, though. Maybe The Hague would have the same, but planes don’t fly over due to the government buildings.

On Saturday we visited Vondelpark (English Wikipedia). I had never been there, knowing it only as the park that was frequently closed during the corona crisis due to it being way too busy. It was definitely busy on the day we went, although there was enough room for everyone.

(Of course I found the greenest, most landscape-y part of the park to take a photo.)

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