Posts Tagged With: COVID-19

The clock strikes 12 (Or: Bustling terraces in The Hague)

Today’s the day! As of 12:00 in The Netherlands, cafés and restaurants could again open their doors for both inside service and service on the terrace, with the former requiring reservations. I’ll admit my curiosity got the better of me so I set out to get some photos for the blog.

I suspected that the city centre would be rather busy so I took an alternative route to get around in the beginning. However in the end I found it was easy enough to move around safely due to the ban on cyclists this weekend on the Grote Markt street.

First up we have the Grote Markt plaza, which I was most curious about:

I’ll admit I really like what this area has done. They’ve kept it rather inviting and it is easy to see where there is a free table. The separate entrance and exit is clearly labeled and they even have colored flags placed down the aisle of the exit area, although it’s a bit hard to see in this photo.

Next we have a look at the terrace by ‘t Goude Hooft, a fancy restaurant/hotel combo:

And finally here is a look at the plein by the Buitenhof. Surprisingly there was still a lot of space left here, although the area pictured is a self-serve bar that has very limited food options. I’m always a fan of this place since you need to pay right away. That means you are never stuck at the end trying to flag down the waiter to get the bill. But I digress…

Two other interesting things I saw but did not take a photo of: six tourists on segways around the Binnenhof area. It was weird to see segways at all, let alone in these times, but they were speaking Dutch so they weren’t foreigners. The other interesting thing was a tiny, one person van with a loud speaker strapped to the top, from which they were broadcasting music quite loudly while driving around. Most likely to get everyone in the festive mood. The side of the van said “Hou je Haags”, an expression I blogged about a while back.

Did you realize we are now in June? Crazy. Bring on a (safe) summer! ☀️

Categories: Daily Dutch living, Food, The Hague | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Preparations for reopening (Or: Monday is the big day)

All around The Hague you see the same thing: restaurant and café owners re-arranging outside tables and chairs in preparation for the big re-opening this coming Monday at 12:00. Do we get more space if we set them out like this? Or if we set them out like this?

Grote Markt is no exception. I last posted about this area in the city centre a few weeks back.

In that post the plaza was empty, but now the plaza is again full of tables and chairs, with gates surrounding each restaurant’s area. This is to help with crowd control – visitors can no longer arrive from any angle but instead need to use designated entrances and exits.

In other news, the prime minister announced that sport schools, wellness centers, saunas and casinos will be able to open earlier than originally announced: 1 July instead of 1 September. Provided that the coronavirus situation is under control at that point, of course.

And here is some cool news for you: SpaceX/NASA is still on track to bring two astronauts to the International Space Station in a few hours – the first manned launch for SpaceX and the first since 2011 for NASA. Liftoff is scheduled for 4:33 PM EDT or 22:33 for those of us in The Netherlands. I generally watch it on my TV’s YouTube app – SpaceX has a channel there. You can also view the launch at SpaceX’s website.

ETA: looks like the launch was aborted due to bad weather. Boo! The next launch opportunity is Saturday at 3:22 PM EDT or 21:22.

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

Past, present, future (Or: Poetry about the coronavirus)

Last week Marco and I noticed another poem hanging on the wall of one of the buildings in the city centre:

It’s also on the Grote Markt, across the street from MediaMarkt at the Lust poffertjes restaurant (Instagram | Facebook). In English it reads:

A while ago there was war and occupation here
Even so peace, freedom and joy returned
The sun always came back from behind the clouds
Every time
This will happen again now, we don’t know when
but it will happen for sure

We live in the now
With the joy from before
And the hope for tomorrow
The sun will come again

The Hague,
Annette, 90 years

I blogged about a previous poem at the same location last month.

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

Stillness (Or: The reopening of libraries across The Netherlands)

During the national press conference on 6 May, Prime Minister Rutte said that libraries would be able to re-open from 11 May provided visitors follow social distancing rules and limit the number of visitors at one time. This was welcome news since the original ruling was that libraries would be closed until (at least) 25 May.

The Hague libraries are now open under the following rules: you can lend books, pick up reservations and get help at the customer service desk. However, you can’t work or study at the library, you can’t use the computers or printers and the bathroom facilities are closed. Last week the central library in the city centre was also only open for returning books and picking up (existing) reservations, unlike other branches which were immediately open for lending books as well. However, since this week it is also possible to lend books at the central library. I visited on Tuesday to turn in the four books I had and to check out more.

If you’re just there to return books or DVDs, you can actually turn them in outside. I don’t have a photo of it, but you actually turn them in by placing them in a large garbage container (Oh, the horror! putting books in a garbage container! It’s obviously clean, though.) The books are then kept in the container for three days before they are disinfected as much as possible and returned to circulation. On the fourth day you can check and make sure that the books disappeared from your account. Which means I can check my account on Saturday to make sure they are gone.

If you want to check out books, you can get into line to go inside. While practicing social distancing of course. You enter through the side door, which is normally used for patrons who can’t enter through the revolving door. When you exit you do use the revolving door to leave.

But very cool: when you enter you get a huge bookmark. That’s how the library is able to control how many patrons are inside. I love the theming.

The giant bookmark says: Welcome, we are happy to see you! Our doors are opened for limited services. Please return this bookmark (boekenlegger) when you leave the library.

I checked out two books which have been on my to read list for a long time: Oracle Night by Paul Auster in English and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King in Dutch. They have been on my to read list since September and December 2018 respectively.

I was pretty impressed by everything that the library staff had done to prepare for the re-opening – there were signs everywhere. I wasn’t prepared for how quiet everything was, though. No one studying, no one talking. There were less people using the escalators which meant they were mostly inactive and making less noise. There were people around, of course. But it wasn’t the same.

As noted, studying and using the computers or printers isn’t allowed at the moment so there was a lot of furniture stacked along the sides, covered in caution tape.

I believe this computer was not in use because it is too close to the self-checkout computer shown in the background. These computers are used for searching the library catalog. There were still a few available to use, though.

I must admit part of me wanted to keep the bookmark as a souvenir of these crazy times. I did not, however. You turn it in right before exiting through the revolving doors, handing it over to a staff member who meticulously disinfects it before handing it back to the staff at the entrance. And then the next person is allowed in, happy to check out some new reading material.

Categories: Reading | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Controversies brewing in Scheveningen (Or: Beach pavilions want to open early)

On Sunday the beach pavilions in Scheveningen told The Hague government that they were going to open more facilities on Wednesday, earlier than the planned 1 June opening date set by the Dutch government. They want to rent out beach chairs and open up the toilet facilities.

And why do they want to open on Wednesday? Because Thursday is a holiday with a great weather forecast (26C or 79F). And why do they need to do so? Because the beach pavilions are bleeding money and say they won’t survive if they don’t open early (article in Dutch). They said they would all open up and if the government didn’t like it they would need to fine all 70 pavilions. Of course, fines range anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 euros…

The answer arrived from The Hague city government later on Monday: no, you cannot open early (article in Dutch). Like other restaurants in the country, you can only be open for takeaway at the moment. The Hague government also mentioned that it wouldn’t be fair to the city centre if the beach could open their terraces early and the city centre could not. That article also mentions a point of contention that the pavilions in Scheveningen have – other beaches do have more freedom to open more of their services, even though they are under the same rules as the rest of the country. The problem is that Scheveningen falls under a different public safety region than the other beaches do, and the other region has chosen to interpret the execution of the rules differently.

Personally, I think part of the problem that The Hague is trying to avoid is the obvious overcrowding of the beach area, but also overcrowding in the public transportation system. HTM (the regional bus and tram service) isn’t required to run their full transportation schedules until 1 June, the same day that face masks will also be required within public transportation due to the expected increase of travelers. I think people are starving for a bit of sun and any good weather they can find, and if they hear that the beaches are providing more services this week they will flock to them en masse.

Scheveningen at sunset

One thing this controversy did cause: the Dutch government reminded everyone that cafés and terraces should not open before 1 June (article in Dutch).

Lastly, there will be another press conference tonight over the expected rules coming on 1 June, and I do expect them to stipulate that terraces and restaurants cannot open before 12:00 on 1 June, to prevent what happened with hair dresses here in the Netherlands as well as other countries: a lot of hair dressers opened at midnight. Can you imagine if all of the restaurants in The Hague tried to do the same?

Categories: Scheveningen | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Coronavirus measures at The Hague Centraal (Or: Wait here, please)

The national train service NS has added additional measures by train stations in anticipation of the schedule returning to normal on 2 June. The delay of one day is because Monday, 1 June is a holiday here in The Netherlands.

Note: the schedule is returning to normal due to the expected increase of travelers, however the government still requests that people avoid public transportation when possible and instead take the car, bike or walk to their destination.

The latest measure related to the coronavirus situation is the use of one-way entrances and exits. As you can see in the photo above, you can only use every other door, depending on what side you’re on. There’s a lot of doors at the Centraal station, about 10 on each side. At least most of them are working these days… In the beginning at least half were defective. I wish I was joking!

Another common complaint after the station was remodeled was that it was really hard to see what was a door and what was a glass wall. I think most people are used to it these days although it still requires you to pay attention a little bit.

There’s also notes spray painted in the ground inside, although that’s been around since the beginning of the crisis, in some form or another. From the upper left it says ‘vermijd drukte’ (avoid busy areas, the rule that recently replaced the stay home as much as possible rule, ‘houd afstand’ (keep your distance), ‘was vaker je handen’ (wash your hands more often). In the middle is the main measure about keeping 1.5 meters distance from others, and at the bottom ‘voorkom €400 boete’ (avoid a €400 fine).

The NS train company have also recently added a ban of taking your bike with you in the train unless you have a special bike for medical purposes. They also temporarily removed the ‘Samenreiskorting’, a 40% discount when you travel with the train outside of peak hours with another person; this person must have either a season pass or a student product for you to qualify for the discount. Here is more information in English.

From 1 June you are required to wear a face mask in all public transportation. I’ve also seen information that only seats by the train window will be available for use, although this page (in Dutch) doesn’t say that directly. It does mention that you should only sit where green stickers are placed, however.

HTM, The Hague’s bus and tram service, is also working on new measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

This is also by The Hague Centraal station. As you can see, when you leave the tram you are required to exit to the right and walk along the path noted with arrows. Travellers who are waiting for the tram need to wait in the spots marked with blue or red stickers behind the line. The blue stickers show two feet and the red stickers have a QR code. Once everyone has exited the tram they will be allowed to move forward and enter the tram themselves. As The Hague Centraal is a rather busy area, there are workers present if you have questions (you can just see a man standing there in the upper left of the photo).

Back in mid-March HTM implemented a measure asking that travelers not use the button to open or close tram doors or to use the stop button to signal to the driver that they want to get off at the next stop. For the foreseeable future buses and trams will be stopping at every stop and opening every door so that travellers do not have to touch anything extra during the journey. As you can see above, there’s a sign on the tram door requesting that you do not press any buttons as it is no longer required.

It will definitely be interesting to see what the first week of June is like. At the same time that public transportation will be back to a normal schedule, restaurants will be re-opening with limited capacity as well.

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

Let’s all go to Primark (Or: Unbelievable lines)

Okay, admittedly this photo was taken last Sunday, late in the afternoon. The Hague city centre gets busy at those times, even on the best of the days. Throw in some coronavirus and you have a recipe for pedestrian congestion.

Let’s see… about 50 people that we can see waiting to get inside the local Primark (a discount clothing store), probably another 20-25 around the corner. Admittedly, it is a double line which makes it look twice even more crowded.

And here I used to joke that people were insane when they would walk around the city with four fully loaded Primark bags. It really is a discount clothing store – I think I got a shirt there for 2 and a half euros once. Oh, and a very awesome Christmas ornament that I probably don’t have a photo of. But trust me, it was cute.

But probably not worth waiting in line for with 75 others.

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

Corona measures at the Chinatown gate (Or: In The Hague)

Recently I noticed a new coronavirus measure that appeared in The Hague: clear walking paths near the Chinatown gate, which is found between Bijenkorf and Superdry.

On this side of the walkway the signs tell you to walk on the right and that cyclists need to get off their bike. Perhaps the one-way walkways are because of the construction around the gate taking up a lot of the space?

It’s an interesting idea, but I feel like this situation has shown me just how much the human race can ignore rules: I watched a couple walk on the left side, not a care in the world. As I emerged on the other side, I met someone who was walking in the wrong direction as well, taking the path I just exited. Some days I feel like a lot of measures are just for political show. But okay. It is what it is.

So that you can understand what I mean by “Chinatown gate”, here is a photo from early 2017:

Ironically, it also had construction around it on that day, although a lot less than what you would see currently.

Did you know that gates like this are entirely an American invention? They were invented in San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. Check out the episode “It’s Chinatown” on the 99% Invisible podcast to learn more.

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

The Passage in The Hague (Or: Warnings about keeping your distance)

Last week Marco and I went through The Passage, which serves as both a passage between shopping areas in the city centre as well as being a shopping area in its own right.

There were stickers in the ground reminding visitors to keep appropriate distance from one another:

These signs weren’t that big, but they were big enough to catch your eye for sure. What I was less impressed with was the attempt to create one-way walking areas near the entrances to The Passage, as the arrows were tiny, hard to see and easily ignored. In fact, I watched two people walk right over them in the wrong direction, not a care in the world.

I do think the one way arrows will need to be ‘improved’ in the coming weeks as this part only gets busier and busier. They should have been more of them, with clearer lines in the floor. Also perhaps a dividing line that went straight down the middle for the entirety of the shopping area. But we will see how it works out in the coming weeks and months.

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

Finding face masks in The Hague (Or: At the local Asian store)

The Dutch government announced during last week’s press conference that face masks would be required on public transportation from 1 June (information from rijksoverheid.nl in English and Dutch). By law you are not allowed to wear medical masks as those are needed for the hospitals and hard to find. Although I haven’t heard about fines if you do wear one (yet).

While we don’t have plans to use public transportation in the near future, you never know what emergencies can come up. A few days ago we also saw a sign on the window of the local Asian store saying they were selling face masks. I believe it was 10 face masks for €9 but don’t hold me to that.

It was the same small Asian store I mentioned a few days ago – it used to be known as ‘Amazing Oriental Markthof’ and is a few doors down from Simonis in the Stad and sandwiched between ‘Spicy Chicken’ (no joke, that’s the name – so creative) and LA American food.

It’s nothing special, but at least we’re prepared. Jaap van Dissel, head of the infectious diseases department at the public health institute RIVM admits that the use of face masks on public transportation is more of a political choice than a health choice: they only stop 5% to 10% of droplets from entering, and they let through anywhere from 40% to 80% of droplets during a cough or sneeze (article at DutchNews.nl).

But hey, it’s a small thing to do when public transportation can’t be avoided. So far my game plan has been to avoid it, though.

Categories: Transportation | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.