Earlier in September, Marco and I visited one of the local Bagels & Beans cafés to enjoy a lunch outside. It was a bit cold, but doable as long as I kept my jacket on. It was probably my first visit in 2020, although admittedly we usually only go a few times a year. Check out our chai lattes:
I always loved these plates, and pretty much forgot about them until I saw our coffees. I also had a bagel with butter and chocolate sprinkles, but I was decidedly not Dutch about it. If you’re Dutch, you spread on the butter and then pour the sprinkles on top. The butter is mainly there to help keep the sprinkles from falling off while you take a bite. I have no interest in butter and chocolate together, so I instead simply alternated which one I put on my bagel. Which did mean I sadly had some chocolate sprinkles left over, but c’est la vie.
It definitely showed that I haven’t been to a Bagels & Beans in a while. I forgot that you need to pay inside. Which worked on in the end, since we were also asked to leave our contact details for corona purposes. Unlike other places (with a QR code you scan) you simply wrote your details in a notebook with a pen.
In other news, The Hague library no longer requires online registration before visiting the library (article in Dutch from the library website). The rule only lasted about two days, but was temporarily required after the press conference last Monday. A few days later the library received status in The Hague’s emergency ordinance as a doorstroomlocatie, or basically a place where people walk through it to experience something or get something (museums, monuments and attraction parks are other examples). This was probably for the best, since the link above mentions that there were long lines outside of people waiting to get in. Face masks are still urgently advised the library, like all public indoor locations in the Netherlands.
Here is your Awww moment for the day. The first color photos of the panda cub born earlier this year in a Dutch zoo are available:
The panda definitely knows how to pose for the camera.
It just reinforces Marco’s idea that we should put up the Christmas decorations extra early this year, to bring some more cheer into our apartment.
On the plus side, I know that the oliebollen stand on the Grote Markt by Xenos/Blokker is open again. I’ve seen it with my own eyes! No photo proof yet, however. I heard a rumor that we’re going to go pick up some tomorrow. Yum yum yum. According to their Facebook page, they are open from tomorrow (Saturday).
This afternoon the Dutch House of Representatives and the ruling Dutch cabinet held a debate about corona measures in the Netherlands. This debate followed the press conference that was held on Monday evening. During Monday’s press conference the cabinet urgently advised that face masks be worn in shops in the bigger cities, including here in The Hague.
The Dutch government has now gone a step further with their urgent advisory to say that face masks should be worn in all public indoor areas where people gather in the Netherlands – not just in shops and not just in the large cities. The advisory went into immediate effect, unlike Monday’s advisory which went into effect Tuesday evening. As noted a few days ago, they can’t (yet) require face masks to be worn as the law would first need to be altered.
Ook kabinet: dringend advies om mondkapje te dragen in binnenruimtes from nos.nl. In this article the prime minister said that if these measures fail the next steps might be a complete closure of the retail branch, including restaurants and cafés, or a shutdown of all sports. In other news articles they have said an evening curfew could not be ruled out, either. Since this went into immediate effect, the cabinet has said that they will release full details of the advisory on Friday. Think of things like what spaces are considered “indoors” and “public”, etc.
I feel like the Netherlands is pretty late here (in Germany and Belgium face masks have been the norm for some weeks now), but every little bit helps.
Since 18:00 this evening residents of The Hague have been strongly advised (but not legally required) to wear a face mask when inside a shop. When I went to Albert Heijn this morning I would say about 60% of those I saw in the store were wearing a mask, even though it wasn’t 18:00 yet.
This does put retail in a tough position. Bijenkorf (a high-end department store) has said they will require face masks in the larger cities where the advisory is in place. Most shops have declined to do so at the moment, however. It is asking a lot of workers to also control face mask usage. The stores would prefer that the government adjusts the law so that it is legally required across the country. At the moment the law does not support the government forcing its citizens to wearing a face mask; it can be challenged in court.
More and more cabinet members are in favor of requiring face masks across the country, versus the regional measures that are in place now. NOS.nl has this article in Dutch: Steeds meer stemmen in Tweede Kamer voor mondkapjesplicht (More and more politicians in the House of Representatives are in favor of a face mask requirement). I think the government will wait and see what the effects are for the recent measures first before adding new ones, however. It depends on how the country is doing in about 10-14 days.
The Dutch ministry of Health has also released their weekly Covid-19 statistics – see more at rivm.nl in English. It is to be expected. For instance there were 19,326 cases in the last week compared to 13,471 cases in the week before that.
So. I’ve kind of ignored the elephant in the room, but it’s not going that great in Europe and it’s not going that great in the Netherlands either. We’re around 3,000 infections a day and they are expecting 5,000 infections by the end of next week regardless of what we do now. Therefore the Dutch prime minister and the Minister of Health, Wellness and Sport held another evening press conference today to discuss new measures, both country-wide and measures for Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. They pointed out that we are at a crossroads: if we don’t see a positive effect from these measures within 10-14 we might be heading for another “intelligent lockdown” again. Hmm.
Here are some of the measures (but not all, see the links below for more information). More regional measures might still follow. Most are country-wide except the first one about face masks.
I saw something cool in Rijswijk’s In de Bogaard shopping centre: a Blokker store with a map by the entrance:
The map makes it easier to see where you need to go before you enter the store so that you don’t mindlessly wander up and down the aisles (and up and down again, seriously) trying to find what you are looking for. And the store map goes perfectly with one of their corona measures: Koop doelgericht or “Buy purposefully”. In other words, know what you want (when possible), get in, get out. Kudos. More stores should have maps at the entrance and/or provide them online.
So Blokker is pretty smart. For a less than smart company, try the Samen restaurant in The Hague. It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. For the last few months the rule in the Netherlands has been that up to 100 people could gather inside or outside, including restaurants. But since it is going in the wrong direction (we’re up to 3,000 cases per day now, from nltimes.nl) a lot of places are only allowed to have 50 people inside or outside. Including The Hague. And then you get this…
While most of the blame must lie with the restaurant, I think people must be mathematically challenged if they don’t turn around when they see the actual restaurant area and demand their money back. I’m trying to give some people the benefit of the doubt, since if you came early it probably wasn’t that busy… but really, people. Come on.
It’s almost time for Halloween! Here is one of the two display stands at Hema:
I have mentioned before that Halloween isn’t that big in the Netherlands. It’s slowly gaining in popularity but trick or treating for candy isn’t a huge thing. Of course there is some trick or treating (I know some international schools do promote it) but it’s not as big with Dutch children as far as I’m aware. SoLow has a great collection of costumes and decorations if you’re interested. Xenos usually has a small collection as well.
As most of my readers are aware, it’s not going that great with Europe in terms of the corona virus. The same is true here in the Netherlands as we’ve been breaking records left and right. Number of cases, hospital intakes, ICU intakes, deaths… It definitely seems like the “second wave” has started. Today we registered 2,552 cases. Various experts (but not the government, yet) are saying a lockdown will be coming if the number of cases can’t be slowed. For instance the chairman of the Dutch Union of the Intensive Care Diederik Gommers said this during an interview with Radio 538 (article in Dutch). You can also see the weekly numbers at RIVM.nl in English, updated two days ago.
You will always know these photos were taken in 2020. Okay, I guess 2020-2021 will probably end up being more correct…
The blue eyes make it cute. Don’t miss the mustard squirting of the bottle, or the (easier to miss) ketchup hair curl. This was next to a food vendor on the pier in Scheveningen.
I also spotted a giraffe with a face mask. As you might be able to tell, it is a promotional statue outside of the not yet opened Legoland Discovery Centre. It should be open already but, as the Dutch say, corona heeft roet in het eten gegooid (Literally “Corona threw ash in the food”, or better “Corona threw a spanner in the works”, or most simply “Corona messed it up”).
The sun was already setting as we wandered down the pier. By the time we turned around and headed back to the hotel, the lights on the pier had turned on and it was pretty much dark everywhere. (While we were walking it was cool to see a bit of light left on one side of the sea, with the other half already completely dark.)
So, news broke this afternoon that there would be another press conference on Friday. One expectation is that additional corona measures will be passed for the bigger Dutch cities, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. However, news hasn’t leaked yet on what the measures will be, because the government and the regions are still finalizing them.
This news comes on a day when the Netherlands registered more than 1,500 infections in the last 24 hours, which is easily a new record. RIVM released the weekly Covid-19 update yesterday, noting the rising percentage of positive tests (2.8% two weeks ago versus 3.9% last week) among other things. The number of people getting tested was almost 200,000, and most people now need to wait more than 72 hours to get tested. And we’re not even in the flu season yet. Yikes!
A portion of the issue comes from student organizations, as new clusters of dozens of students are reported on a daily basis. But that’s not the full picture either – it’s clear to see that some people no longer care about keeping their distance from others and the city centre gets more packed by the day. It will be interesting to see what the next few days bring.
(With all of that doom and gloom, I will say it’s going well for Marco and I. We’re working hard but we’re looking forward to a few days off to celebrate our 7th anniversary this weekend.)
On Friday the biggest carnival in the Netherlands this year opened at the Malieveld. Over 90 attractions have been set up. The carnival is open a full month (11 September to 11 October). Check out some photos over at denhaagfm.nl:
The local news site Omroep West has some more information about the corona precautions, including two entrances and exits fitted with a digital counting system (the maximum visitors at any one time is 5,000, which still seems like a lot). There are also extra wide paths in most areas.
With that being said, I think I’ll skip it this year. Marco and I usually only take a walk around it and maybe buy some oliebollen before we leave. And now the city has promised us oliebollen from 1 October, so we should be fine to wait a few more weeks for that.