Amsterdam news roundup | April 2020

Written by on 04/04/2020

 Here’s a local news roundup for Amsterdam …

Further news and links about the coronavirus in the Netherlands and Amsterdam has been shared on our Coronavirus updates post, here.

Vodafone will launch 5G mobile internet on existing cell towers from midnight on 28 April, serving much of the Netherlands, including Greater Amsterdam. As Het Parool reports, Vodafone is the first company to make the new network commercially available in the Netherlands. The paper warns, however, that athough in theory 5G achieves up to a hundred times faster speeds than 4G, consumers should not expect much higher speeds all of a sudden. New frequencies required for mass use of the new mobile technology in the Netherlands will be auctioned from June. Since mid-April, more than twenty mobile phone masts have been set on fire in the Netherlands by opponents of 5G – who claim they are a risk to health. However, there is still no scientific evidence for the negative effects of 5G. 

In the vicinity of the Western Docklands, the police have seized seventy illegal taxis. As AT5 reports, the taxis were parked on the public road, but with suspended license plates and without insurance for civil liability, and that is not allowed. Many taxi drivers are out of work during the current corona crisis so some drivers have decided to temporarily suspend their taxi insurance and road tax to save costs. That’s allowed, but if so, the car must not be on public roads, not even in a parking lot. The seized taxis are from companies that are registered as a private company at PO box addresses. They will be given fourteen days to reinsure and collect the cars.

The Bitterzoet nightclub and concert venue in the Spuistraat has shared a new video that shows how their nightclub would work in the 1.5m society, reports Amsterdam’s AT5 TV channel. The idea came after several other restaurants and cafes made videos about changes they could make to take acount of the current corona crisis. According to Bitterzoet owner, Bas Louwers, their video demonstrates nightlife at their venue is impossible under these circumstances.’ However, they do say they have received lots of messages of support from their regular visitors during this difficult time.

The Netherlands will start reopening primary schools and daycare centres from May 11 but organised events remain banned until 1 September, prime minister Mark Rutte told a news conference on 21 April, as reported by Dutchnews.nl and other news organisations. The decision to reopen schools is based on a wide range of research which shows that young children are unlikely to pass on the COVID-19 virus or develop serious symptoms themselves, according to the public health institute RIVM. Children will also be able to play sports again under certain conditions. The ban on events is being extended from 1 June to 1 September and visits to nursing homes remain banned. Rutte stressed that the basic social distancing rules – working home, staying home as much as possible, and maintaining 1.5m distance from others – remain paramount and will be extended until 20 May at least.

To make up for no public Kings Day festivities this year, due to the coronavirus, a virtual reality King’s Day experience has been organised by VR developer, Vrroom. As reported by Het Parool, the Kingsday VR Festival will take place from 20:00-23:00 on Monday 27 April in a virtual reality Dam Square. It will include music performances from Kwambo, Vangrail, DJ Jochem Hamerling and a mysteryguest. Tickets cost from 7,50 euros, with all proceeds going to the Voedselbank charity. With this pilot event, the VR developer aims to get 30,000 simultaneous visitors in the virtual environment, which is considerably more than the current maxium that has been achieved up to now. The organiser warns that there’s a chance something will go wrong.

Amsterdam is going to ban holiday rentalswithin the Red Light District and in parts of the canals. These are the areas where quality of life is under severe pressure from tourism. It is the first time that the municipality has introduced such a ban, says a report by Het Parool. The ban will take effect on 1 July, and applies in postcode areas 1012 and 1017. This concerns the Red Light District, the area around Oudezijds Achterburgwal and Oudezijds Voorburgwal and the southern part of the canals, roughly between the Amstel and the Leidsegracht. However, it is not specified whether the ban also applies to people who offer a room or part of their house through, for example, Airbnb. 

This year’s fight back against the oak processionary caterpillar has already started in Amsterdam’s parks says a report in Het Parool.  A livestock farmer has been brought in from Herwijnen, armed with a digital map with all the problem trees and an impressive spray truck.  At night time the trees are sprayed with a gel containing millions of tiny nematodes that feed on caterpillar larvae. Another preparation with bacteria will also be sprayed on the trees later. The measures should lead to a 75% reduction in the caterpillars, a species which caused a lot of health complaints last year due to stings from their hairs. The city wishes to tackle the problem in a nature-friendly way; also installing 3000 new nest boxes for birds and bats, the natural enemies of the caterpillar. Though Amsterdam has relatively few oak trees anyway, about four percent of the total.

Het Parool reports the council of the municipality of Zaanstad is enthusiastic about Tony’s Chocolonely’s plans to build a roller coaster at a new factory in the city. The proposal is now being submitted to the city council. If this is also positive, the Amsterdam-based chocolate company will submit an official permit application later this year. The company wants to have two factories erected at Pakhuis De Vrede, a national monument that is more than a hundred years old along the North Sea Canal. They would also move their headquarters to the site where they wish to add a restaurant and conference facilities as well. With the addition of a rollercoaster, the municipality estimates this will lead to 225,000 visitors per year, to start with, but could grow to more than double that. If Tony’s Chocolonely’s plans are also approved by the city council, the factory could be open by 2023.

On Sunday 5 April, summer temperatures of 19 degrees and higher are likely, weather forecasters say.  In Amsterdam park side entrances will be locked so officials can let a limited number of people in, and the city will also close off central canals to pleasure boat users. In some places in the countryside, access is being restricted by closing off car parks. In others, officials are keeping a close watch on how many people make use of parks and beaches, so social distance rules can be kept. People who do not keep the required 1.5m may be fined. (Source: Dutchnews.nl)

 

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Sources: Het Parool / AT5 / NLtimes.nl / Dutchnews.nl.

 

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