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.
While out walking today I spotted some shoes by the Malieveld. And by “some shoes” I actually mean hundreds of pairs of shoes. Today healthcare workers held a demonstration called #meerdanapplaus (more than applause). You can probably guess what that is about – it’s great that everyone claps for healthcare workers, but what about giving them a raise and hiring more workers to to prevent burnout? The sector did receive an 1000 euro bonus and is slated to receive a 500 euro bonus next year but more could be done.
Due to the corona restrictions, the healthcare workers couldn’t be there in person, so they sent their shoes instead. (After the demonstration the shoes will be sent to various charities.)
The Tweede Kamer (Dutch House of Representatives) passed a motion earlier this week to recognize Dutch sign language as an official language (nos.nl, article in Dutch). The language is used by about 15,000 residents. The law also states that Dutch sign language interpreters must be used more often by the government, for example during important press conferences. The article mentions the fact that sign language courses have seen a huge boost due to the “Irma” effect, although there is still more that could be done. At least it is something positive to come out of this crazy year.
Today’s photo comes from Malieveld yesterday morning, just before lunchtime. Apparently there was a demonstration against the upcoming coronaspoedwet (corona emergency law) that the Dutch government is currently working on.
On the way back there was a group of three people who took up most of the path. Since they didn’t move to the left of the path I deliberately made a wide arc and started walking in the grass for a while to avoid them. I figured they were part of an anti-corona demonstration so they probably couldn’t care less about keeping the proper amount of space between me and them.
In other news: Mind your Ps: Amsterdam installs plant pot street urinals to improve toilet manners from dutchnews.nl. Interesting idea. It can only help – people are going to find a place to pee whether or not one of these exists. If you’re lucky, they find a corner in the shadow. If you’re not, well, then, you need to look the other way. Generally there is a bigger problem with outdoor peeing (wildplassen in Dutch) at night, so it makes sense that the urinals are only open at night; during the day the plant urinal “doors” are closed. (There’s also hidden urinals near the Grote Kerk in The Hague – they only pop out of the ground at night. During the day you only see an innocent looking circle on the ground.)
Okay – it wasn’t exactly an invasion. Not like last time anyway, when farmers in trackers stormed the Malieveld and destroyed the grass. More like a small skirmish. The Dutch government has stated that if cows are fed cattle feed that is less protein rich there will be less nitrogen released which will allow the construction sector to build new homes (aka one sector makes less nitrogen pollution to allow another sector to keep polluting).
The government ultimately decided to go ahead with the plan to reduce protein in the cattle feed. In an attempt to prevent the chaos that happened last October, the military was called in to block off certain streets so that tractors wouldn’t disrupt the city too much today.
I decided to take a quick walk over to the Malieveld this afternoon to see what was going on. The only thing I found was a van from the national public television company (NOS) waiting for something newsworthy to happen. But by this point all of the farmers were gone, so they were just standing around. Poor NOS reporters!
Yesterday I took a picture of a group of riders waiting for the tram at the front of The Hague Centraal:
It looks a bit chaotic with not enough distance between passengers, but in any other year except 2020 this would have been 3 or 4 times more crowded, as tram 9 is the tram to the beach. So this is actually a vast improvement.
As noted, today there may or may not be activity at the Malieveld due to the Viruswaanzin or “Virus madness” demonstration that was (for a second time) banned by The Hague mayor. You’ll never guess what the police confiscated last night:
…sidewalk chalk (!).
Or read the article from regio15 (in Dutch): Politie neemt stoepkrijt in beslag bij het Malieveld. I think that is going too far – if you check the pictures the persons were drawing lots and lots hearts and writing ‘vrijheid’ and ‘liefde’ (freedom and love) occasionally. There are still chalk messages on the paths around Malieveld about Black Lives Matter and ‘Racism is not just an American problem’, which is true. According to the police the problem isn’t the demonstrators so much as the other people who plan to come, including football hooligans. That was the case last week, but only time will tell if that is the case today.
On an interesting note: officially sidewalk chalk was banned on all public surfaces before 2017, even if little children were drawing. But that rule was never really enforced. You can read more in Dutch at nu.nl: Gemeente Den Haag heft stoepkrijtverbod op.
In previous years I have posted about the Veteran’s Day activities in The Hague – generally there is a parade and events at the Malieveld. However, things are different this year due to the corona crisis. But I was able to spot a veteran being interviewed at the Malieveld yesterday:
It’s possible the interview will show up in a piece on the national broadcast newschannel (NOS) today or perhaps a short-lived TV commercial.
Oh, and I was nice enough to crop the horse… leavings… out of the photo. Welcome to The Netherlands. Occasionally mounted police patrol the city, especially during events like the should-not-have-been-held demonstration last weekend on the Malieveld. Or maybe it was from a Black Lives Matter demonstration the week before that. But then no one cleans up after the police horses, so the excrement sits there for weeks.
And speaking of that should-not-have-been-held demonstration from last week: the group requested again to hold a demonstration tomorrow at the Malieveld but they were again denied by the mayor of The Hague – see this article at nltimes.nl. The leader said that he would still come as an individual (not a demonstrator) and asked other demonstrators to come as “individuals” as well.
Maybe they should bring picnic baskets? Considering there were over 400 arrests last Sunday, it looks like it will again be interesting in The Hague tomorrow…
Edited to add: the leader is now saying that he will no longer come to the Malieveld and he requests that other demonstrators also do not come (article in Dutch at nos.nl).
As I mentioned a few days ago, the mayor of The Hague refused to allow a festival against corona restrictions to happen today (see article from nltimes.nl). This was because the expected attendance grew from 100 to 10,000 and the organization billed it more as an “event” than a demonstration, including having DJs along with speakers. And since events aren’t allowed right now, it was only logical that it would not be allowed.
But as you might expect, this doesn’t stop everyone from showing up. There were about 10 arrests earlier this morning, of a group who refused to leave when the police requested that they do so. Some of the sticking points include the fact that the city has held two Black Lives Matter festivals in the last few weeks and that the Netherlands was poised to sign a corona measures law to replace the current emergency ordinances we have in place that are due to expire soon. That law has since been delayed amid some controversy that it impedes on fundamental rights (it would have even given police power over situations in private housing). See also this article from dutchnews.nl.
Around lunchtime the number of demonstrators had increased to a few hundred and everyone was asked to leave the Malieveld, including people sunbathing or exercising. Most of the demonstrators moved to the edges of the Malieveld but did not leave. A few hours later there are a few thousand people at the demonstration. The mayor did allow them to demonstrate until 13:30, but considering he said that around 13:05 or 13:10, I can see why that annoyed a lot of people.
Duizenden betogers nemen Malieveld over, politie sluit Binnenhof en winkelgebied af from ad.nl. ‘Thousands of protestors take over Malieveld; police close off Binnenhof and the central shopping area’. However the number of protestors does vary by news site. The police also described the area as ‘tense’ a while ago while local news reporters said it was fairly relaxed. So it does depend on where you get are getting your sources from.
Closing the Binnenhof is fairly standard procedure to prevent demonstrators from going there, and I don’t think the shopping area is closed in the city centre, more that they are keeping a close eye on who is entering it to make sure demonstrators don’t enter. (As much as possible – there are reports of demonstrators with ‘stop the lockdown’ shirts and demonstrators handing out flowers to random shoppers.) Oh, and I also saw a photo of group of demonstrators with ‘free hugs’ shirts on, which is no doubt done on purpose in these corona times. I also saw on Twitter that people were being encouraged to celebrate Father’s Day by having a picnic on the Malieveld.
At this point (around 14:30), some people have begun to leave the area. However football supporters have arrived (see the tweet above) and the police are asking people not to go to the city centre anymore. There’s also at least one helicopter flying overhead. With that being said – demonstrations in the Netherlands are peaceful, and it makes sense that emotions will boil over in this situation, on both sides.
The local news site does have a live stream (for now) on YouTube. They do report that the connection is a bit spotty at times.
One of my favorite additions to The Hague in the last five years is the building that houses Primark. Primark is a budget department store which attracts customers in droves (I used to see tourists walk past holding 4 or 5 bags each). I took another photo of the building recently:
I love the color of the stone and the angles of the apartments above. And of course the blue skies definitely help.
In other news:
There’s a chance of a heat wave next week, with temperatures expected to be around 30C or 86F on Wednesday and Thursday. I know some of my American readers would go “Pffft! That’s nothing!” but keep in mind air conditioning is pretty rare in the Netherlands. And a lot of people are now working from home, so no office climate control for us! Time to break out the big fan.
The Hague forbids weekend protest festival against Covid restrictions from nltimes.nl. This was another group who wanted to protest at Malieveld. Originally there were supposed to be 100 attendees but then the organization decided to turn it into a ‘festival’ of sorts, altering speakers and DJs, so the expected attendance rose to 10,000. Considering festivals are banned at the moment, it’s no wonder that this demonstration was also banned. The decision was made by the mayor of The Hague this morning and the group then turned to the courts to get the ban overturned. The courts ruled earlier this evening that the ban could stay in place.
MOJO en Vodafone lanceren streamingplatform largerthan.live from vodafoneziggo.nl. MOJO (a ticket seller) and Vodafone (an internet and phone company) are together launching a streaming platform so that those with a virtual ticket can watch certain performances live from the Ziggo dome in Amsterdam. Fans can watch from their mobile devices or broadcast to the tv. They can also choose what camera angle they want. The most interesting point: at the moment the two companies say the streaming opportunities will continue even after things get back to normal. That could be interesting.
Earlier today I took a walk around the Malieveld, which you’ll know happens a few times a week. But this time there was an unexpected amount of police: a handful of police outside the area, another handful at the entrance, another 4 or 5 on bicycles, and another 5 or 6 in the far corner watching a stage being set up.
There wasn’t too much to see yet, but something was definitely about to happen. It turns out it was preparations for an anti-lockdown demonstration which would happen in the afternoon:
Of course, there’s not a lockdown as such, or at least not a lockdown like what other European countries have had. However they are also protesting against the 1.5 meters requirement that everyone has to follow.
The minister of Health is looking to create a new set of corona laws to replace the emergency ordinances each city has set up to deal with the corona crisis. The benefit of that is that the law would be the same throughout the country, versus differing based on what city you were in. But putting something in the law books does feel more tangible, more permanent. So it is easy to understand the angst that some citizens have over a crisis that might not go away next year, or even the year after, and the thought that this crisis has only taken away personal freedoms. (See also Nieuwe coronawet moet einde maken aan verwarring over maatregelen at rtlnieuws.nl).
There’s even the question of personal data being illegally used – right now in the Netherlands you need to make a reservation to eat inside a restaurant, and undergo a health check when you enter. What if that information later falls into the wrong hands? Speaking of which: Lek in RIVM-coronasite: gegevens van gebruikers makkelijk in te zien at nos.nl – there is apparently a significant data leak at a website run by the Dutch ministry of Health. The website allows Dutch residents to report if they have had corona-like symptoms in the last week. Opps.
Ahh, weekend! It’s an early one, but we’re getting four days off. My work gives both Good Friday and Easter Monday as paid holidays, and Marco took tomorrow off and gets Easter Monday as a paid holiday. This has been a long work week. It’s not the work itself, just the constant working from home situation, I think.
This is the end of week #5 for working at home, and my expectation is that we’ll also be working from home in May as well. Or at least partially working from home so that the social distancing and 1.5 meters rule can be enforced on the work floor. For instance by saying only half the workforce can go into work each day, and alternating who goes in each day.
So hopefully that explains the long walk Marco and I took in the afternoon yesterday – sometimes you just need to get out and stretch. Here is a look at Malieveld – unbelievably empty on a day when temperatures reached 71F / 22C. It was the first time I took off my jacket in many months, I must admit. And the first time in a while that I wondered if I should have put sunblock on…
There were a few people in the grass in the distance, but not many. You can also see that the grass still hasn’t completely recovered from the farmer protests back in October of last year. Check out this aerial photo: Reddit link.
Looking forward to sleeping in a bit tomorrow. And maybe stretching my legs and going for a socially distant walk at some point.