Amsterdam news roundup | March 2020
Written by BroadcastAMS on 29/03/2020
Here’s a local news roundup for Amsterdam …
Further news on the coronavirus in the Netherlands has been shared on our Coronavirus updates post, here.
[NATIONAL] Special measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the Netherlands are to be extended until 28 April, at least, prime minister Mark Rutte told a press conference on 31 March (source: Dutchnews.nl). This means cafes, restaurants, museums, sports clubs and schools will remain shut for a further three weeks after 6 April. As the meivakantie school holidays start on 25 April, in effect, schools will definitely be closed until 11 May at least. Also, parents considering booking a holiday away during the Easter or May break should not do so, the prime minister said as there’s a chance the measures may be extended again, past 28 April.
From Thursday 26 March further local measures have been been put in place by the Amsterdam mayor to limit the spread of the coronavirus in the city, using powers granted to regional authorities by the Dutch central government. The following is now applicable across the Amsterdam-Amstelland region:
- Only food may be sold on markets. Stalls selling non-food goods will temporarily disappear from markets, creating more space for social distancing.
- Park gyms, eg exercise equipment areas in parks, are closed.
- Cruyff Courts and enclosed football pitches are closed. However, for the time being, playgrounds and more than 700 unfenced public sports fields in the city will remain open.
- All managed sports fields such as those used by sports clubs have already been closed for several weeks. Despite these closures, many people are using the sports fields for recreation. Because this often means that there are too many people too close together, enforcement on sports fields will now be intensified.
- CCTV may be installed in areas where there are concerns about persistent overcrowding.
- Police and enforcement officers will issue fines if the rules are not observed. If you don’t keep the safe distance of 1.5m from others, you could face a heavy fine.
As reported by AT5 on 28 March, the corona virus has so far been detected in 477 people in Amsterdam. Because not everyone is tested, the actual number of infections is much higher. The day before, Mayor Halsema had reported that up to 13 people had died from the effects of corona in the Amsterdam region, but she immediately said that this figure is not very reliable.
The Amsterdam food bank, Voedselbank Amsterdam, say they are running out of stock due to the massive hoarding of supermarket consumers and are asking for cash donations, Het Parool reports. Food banks depend on donations of leftover stock from supermarkets and wholesalers, but at the moment almost nothing remains. So local food banks have asked for people to donate money so that they can purchase stocks directly, or issue supermarket vouchers. In addition, the internal collections that local companies, schools and supermarkets normally make for food banks are now also on hold. Currently, around three thousand households in Amsterdam depend on the help of the Voedselbank Amsterdam via distribution points across the city. Due to the corona crisis, Voedselbank Amsterdam expects even more people will need food packages for short term aid due to loss of income. Donations can be made through the Amsterdam Voedselbank website: https://amsterdam.voedselbank.org
The board of Amsterdam’s Pride organisation has resigned because of ‘unrest’ caused by controversial comments made by its chairman Frits Huffnagel, the organisation said in a statement (source: DutchNews.nl). The Pride board had earlier said it did not share the chairman’s opinions but decided he could stay after Huffnagel apologised. However, following an open letter from almost 100 human rights groups asking for Huffnagel’s removal, the entire board has resigned. Huffnagel himself has now also resigned. A new board will be put together by former Amsterdam alderwoman Carolien Gehrels.
In March, the new daytime motorway speed limit of 100 km/h came into force across the Netherlands (source: DutchNews.nl). The lower limit applies between 6am and 7pm and is part of a package of measures to reduce nitrogen emissions. The change affects around around 80% of motorways and around 4000 new signs have been errected to show the new limit. The higher limit of 120km/h or 130km/h will still apply between 7pm and 6am.
The vast majority of Amsterdam’s Marineterrein, a historic naval base in the heart of the city center, will be owned by the municipality. Het Parool reports that the site will offer space for up to 900 new homes, and office space, creating a new urban district for Amsterdam. Only 10% will be retained for use by the armed forces; the ‘compact barracks’, on the northeast corner of the site. The municipality has also agreed that miltary helicopters can use the sports field as a landing location for up to ten days a year.
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Sources: Het Parool / AT5 / NLtimes.nl / Dutchnews.nl.