Posts Tagged With: COVID-19

Incentives to get jabbed (Or: Free fish anyone?)

The Guardian reported that some Dutch vaccination centers are offering free pickled herring as an incentive to get the vaccine. June 15 is usually Vlaggetjesdag (Dutch Wikipedia), translated as “little flag day” because fishing ships would be decorated with flags on the Saturday before Pentecost. It is the day that the season’s first barrel of herring is auctioned off for a good cause and the day that herring starts appearing in supermarkets. Last year the first barrel was given to medical workers and this year the first barrel was given to the GGD health service; GGD is responsible for Covid-19 vaccinations in the Netherlands.

If you were lucky enough to be around IJmuiden you could also receive free herring after your vaccination (article from Haarlems Dagblad, but it’s behind a paywall).

In case you are wondering: I would politely decline if I was offered any. But for some Dutchies the first herring of the year can be a big thing.

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Half vaccinated (And: Face mask and working from home news)

First off: while the government has not officially announced it, the requirement to wear a face mask and the strong advice to work at home will probably disappear from 26 June. Two exceptions: you still need to wear a face mask in public transportation (but probably not supermarkets). You can also only go back to work if your office can guarantee that you are keeping the 1.5 meters rule (5 feet).

Dutch article from Mondkapjes af en niet langer thuiswerken mits 1,5 meter afstand per 26 juni

English article from Have face masks had their day? They are up for discussion, minister confirms

My thought? It feels a bit rushed, on both counts. I’ve gotten used to wearing face masks (at least inside or on my way to somewhere inside). Working from the office? I’m not sure about that either. Previously my office said not before 1 September. But either way, they said people could work from home if they wanted through December, at which time the policy would be reviewed again.

In even bigger news: I got my first vaccination today (Pfizer)! I definitely felt the shot right away; it pinched a bit but nothing bad. My arm has been getting more sore throughout the day but it hasn’t affected typing or anything like that. I also have a bit of a headache, but as that started before the shot I’m not sure if it is related or not.

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Covid tests at the local supermarket (Or: Quite a supply)

Covid quick tests for home use have been available at Dutch supermarkets for the last month or two. Today I noticed a pile of tests by the self-checkout. I am sure they have always been there and that I just hadn’t noticed them.

The government has a page (in Dutch) listing which quick tests are officially recognized in the Netherlands.

In other news: five new islands have been added to the Netherlands in a 78 million euro project. The Dutch are known for reclaiming land from the sea, as you probably know. This article says the islands have been reclaimed for use in nature.

Also: Golden Carriage arrives at Amsterdam Museum after restoration from The golden carriage needed to be maneuvered into position with a crane, as the carriage was placed in the (inner) courtyard. The museum used to be an orphanage and orphans had helped design the carriage back in 1898, hence why it is going on display there after a five year renovation.

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Tuesday tidbits (Or: Random news here and there)

Around lunchtime today I went to The Guardian’s website to check the news. Instead, I see a white screen with a tiny error message. As I have done countless times over the years, I then went to to Down for Everyone or Just Me. The website reassured me that the error wasn’t just on my side. Around then work got crazy again, so I forgot about it for a while (until work was less crazy and I could actually make some lunch).

It turns out the error hit more than just The Guardian. See also this article: Massive internet outage hits websites including Amazon, and Guardian from The best part of the article? This quote: “The Guardian moved to Twitter to run a dedicated liveblog, while tech news site the Verge published news to a shared Google Doc – until a reporter accidentally shared a link on Twitter that allowed the audience to edit it.” Opps…?

Also, from Zandvoort organisers expect 50,000 F1 fans to cycle to Grand Prix. In other words, park at a nearby parking lot and hop on a bike to get to the race track. This September, the Netherlands will be hosting the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985 (!). It was supposed to happen last year but it was cancelled due to corona. The organizers rightfully did not want to hold the race without fans. I suspect there would have been huge riots if they had tried. The best part (even though it is not in the article)? There will also be a special bus line with the number #33 – aka, Max Verstappen’s number.

And from GGD Utrecht gives away 1,200 Covid-19 vaccines after power failure kills cold storage. The best part here? They had so many people show up they had to turn people away. Of course, the vaccines were first offered to healthcare workers or safety workers in the region and then the offer was opened to the public. It was 1,200 Janssen vaccines (J&J vaccines for any Americans reading this) so one shot was enough. The site brought in extra workers to manage the crowds and stayed open past midnight. Nicely done!

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435 days (Or: On WordPress streaks)

Did you know that the first corona related post I made was back on 14 March, 2020? The title was A Saturday morning like any other? (Or: Changing times in The Netherlands). This was a few days after we were told to start working from home. Here is a funny tidbit: “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.” I guess it wasn’t a joke in the end?

I then proceeded to write one post each day for the next 434 days. My main goal has always been to keep my family back in the states informed with what was going on on this side of the pond.

This post is thus post #435. Things are going better in the Netherlands, although I always feel I should say that with a note of caution. Today there were 1,596 corona infections reported in the last 24 hours, the lowest number since mid-September. Dutch hospitals are also seeing improvement, as there are now less than 1,000 people hospitalized.

I’ve decided to deliberately end my daily blog writing streak. I will still write blog posts, just maybe not every day. 🙂

Here is another streak I did: 365 days of blog posts. Back when I started the blog I posted every day for one year straight. So maybe there will be another streak in my future… but hopefully not due to a future pandemic.

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PvdA office in The Hague (Or: Old school advertisements)

Here is a photo of the political party PvdA’s office (Partij van de Arbeid, Labour Party… English Wikipedia page). There are lots of old school advertisements to be seen:

Here are some of the slogans:

Zeker zijn van een vaste baan = Assured of a full-time job

Kies voor kwaliteiten, kies een PvdA-vrouw = Choose for qualities, choose a PvdA woman

In geouwehoer kun je niet wonen = you can’t live in chatter (? perhaps something like you can’t live by your words alone… it’s a famous phrase from a well-known PvdA leader, Jan Schaefer)

News of the day #1: Concerts, festivals can start from June 5 as Netherlands moves ahead with lockdown easing from

News of the day #2: Dutch cabinet wants to relax most lockdown restrictions by June 30, also from In other words, they want to move step 5 (21 July) to step 4 (June 30) and relax both sets of restrictions on June 30, if the numbers allow.

Happy Friday, everyone!

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A hint of sun (Or: Better weather this weekend)

It looks like better weather will be coming later this week, although of course the best weather falls on Monday and Tuesday next week (24C or 75F). Still, bring it on! It will be nice to be outside again without a jacket on, and feel the sun’s warmth on my skin.

The Hague’s police department held another “turn in your weapons” action in the last week. This one was under the hashtag #dropit. They received more than 650 weapons, including 30 firearms. Th firearms were picked up at home by plain clothed officers in unmarked cars. The rest could be brought to the police station Check out the photo (there are more in the linked article):

What struck me with the photos–especially in the linked article–was how structured the weapons are placed on the table. Someone with a design-forward mind was definitely thinking about how to place the weapons to make the best photographs. My second thought was just how many weapons that actually is! Every corner of that table is covered, plus more weapons on the ground. The police also said they were happy with the action even though they were not expecting to get so many.

In other news: Digitisation project answers questions about Dutch colonial trade in minutes from The project will digitize 25 million handwritten documents from the business administration of the Dutch East Indies company. This will allow researchers to search the documents within minutes. The only problem, of course, is that the handwritten documents are from the 17th and 18th centuries, which means the search results will also be in 17th/18th century Dutch and will thus need to be translated.

Some good news: anyone with a birth year of 1969 or 1970 can make an appointment for a corona vaccine. It is looking better in the Netherlands. However we are still in the top 5 for number of cases in Europe, so as always – patience is required. See also: Dutch Covid hospitalizations 53% below peak; ICU total near 10-week low from in English.

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At her feet, flowers (Or: Statue in The Hague)

Here is another photo of flowers for you, randomly placed at the feet of a statue in The Hague. Who knows why? These are quite beautiful flowers, though.

I’m partially posting this article because I like the title: The gym before breakfast on a cafe terrace: What changes today from Today is the first day of step 2 in the government’s plan to reopen society. Some gyms opened at 00:01 this morning, and cafés are now allowed to open from 06:00. So the title makes sense.

And here is some good news for the Netherlands: Corona patient numbers down by nearly 150, cases drop 25% in a week, also from The last time we had such a large drop in patient numbers was January 1. That feels like a lifetime ago.

The Netherlands has a long way to go in comparison to other European countries. However we are getting there, helped in part by the vaccination program speeding up (we are closing in on 150,000 vaccines given each day).

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Mondays (Or: Start of another week)

It is a short week for me, though. I am taking Friday off because next Monday is a holiday (Pentecost). Did you know it is the last holiday of the year here in the Netherlands? Christmas and New Year’s fall in the weekend this year, unfortunately. But I digress…

The biggest news of the day is that the Netherlands will proceed with the lockdown easing this week, from Wednesday ( Time for me to get a list ready of books I want to check out from the library… The library has posted a list of what people will be able to do (and not do) once they open later this week; the link is in Dutch. The list is as expected, except that they are also offering the option of studying in the library with a reservation system. You need to have a reservation to sit anywhere. The café in the central library will be open for coffee to go as well.

Vaccination against Covid-19 is going faster every day. Yesterday appointments were opened for anyone born 1963 or 1964. Today they are now allowing anyone born in 1965. We still have a ways to go, but it’s nice to see things speeding up.

Today’s photo of the day: What do you do if you are throwing away used paper and your watch accidentally falls in the underground container as well? You hope the fire department has a bit of time to help. Luckily for this woman, they did.

It’s an unexpected photo, to see someone in such a tight space. And I do need to ask: why do I see what looks like egg in his hair if he is in the paper container? I hope he was able to take a very good shower after this assignment.

He did manage to find the watch – you can see it in his hand.

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Lazy Saturdays (Or: Dreary walks in rain)

As the blog title implies, we’re in a bit of a wet spell at the moment. Which is actually a good thing – for the first time since 2018, no part of the Netherlands is experiencing drought conditions. See this article in Dutch at Regen en lage temperaturen maken eind aan droogte or see this “Drought monitor” chart at KNMI in Dutch. The chart does still show we have to be careful, though. The black line at the bottom left is this year, and it is similar to 2018 (the grey line) which had a wet spring that turned into an extremely dry summer, rivaled only by the record year 1976 (red).

Another cause for optimism – hospital intakes and the number of corona cases continue to fall, with numbers not seen since mid March. Hopefully the planned relaxations for step 2 of the “opening plan” can go ahead next week ( in English). Of course, it is always a balancing act since relaxations will lead to more infections, so hopefully the number of vaccinations administered will help with that. We are currently doing about a million a week.

In other news: First night train from Amsterdam to Vienna departs on May 25 from It is a sleeper train; the route takes 14 hours (19:30 departure from Amsterdam, 09:19 arrival in Vienna).

Den Haag zet zich schrap voor renovatie Binnenhof: ‘Het gebied moet interessant blijven’ from After this summer the Binnenhof will close for 5 and a half years for a large renovation. I will miss being able to walk through it. The article talks about a few activities the city will organize to help keep the area interesting for tourists, including a lookout point that will allow people to see the construction from above.

It also talks about guided tours and a focus on archaeology. My favorite archaeology-after-construction area is the artifacts found during the construction of the tram tunnel. They left some in the floor under glass for commuters to view whenever they wanted.

“Around the table” artifacts at the Grote Markt tram stop, dated to the 17th century. Here’s hoping the Binnenhof construction reveals similar finds.

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