Netherlands records soaring case numbers despite faith in 'intelligent' lockdown
People with and without protective masks are walking down the shopping street as the coronavirus continues to spread in Amsterdam - EVA PLEVIER / Reuters
It prided itself on a successful "smart" lockdown earlier this year, but criticism is growing in the Netherlands as infection rates are near the top of the European charts.
According to statistics, 20 to 30-year-olds drive the torch that is acute in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.
On Sunday, the ECDC recorded the 14-day cumulative number of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people as 345 in the Netherlands, with only Belgium and the Czech Republic being higher. The UK cumulative case number is 242.
In a press conference on Friday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte was unusually prickly when he urged 17.4 million Dutch people to abide by the rules: a 10 p.m. curfew for nightlife, face masks in public spaces, a maximum of three guests in homes and a call to open Work from home.
"We don't stick to the rules enough," said Rutte. “There are too many people, young people, but also other groups, who think that it is okay for them. But it's wrong: it's completely predictable that when many young people are infected they will infect their parents, and then their grandparents. "
Prime Minister Mark Rutte comes to an informal meeting about the novel coronavirus Covid-19 in the Catshuis in The Hague - ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN / AFP
The prime minister has given the country an additional 24 hours to see a turnaround in infection rates to allow for a time lag before the September 30th measures come into effect. However, the criticism is increasing and yesterday the head of the intensive care association of the state, Diederik Gommers, called for a complete lock instead of "half-hearted measures".
Some experts believe the situation stems from a Dutch liberalism that is usually viewed as positive. "Tolerance" guidelines mean tourists can flock to Amsterdam to buy cannabis in coffee shops - strictly speaking, illegal - while freedom makes Dutch children the happiest in the world.
According to anthropologist and associate professor Danny de Vries of the University of Amsterdam, this does not encourage people to join.
"We have the attitude to be flexible with the rules when it seems logical," he says. “When you go to the beach and you see that you can't have a dog but nobody is on the beach, you think, 'Who cares? 'The Dutch aren't very good at enforcing many rules either, and there is very little consequence of breaking them compared to the US. "
A spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Justice told The Telegraph that enforcement was not the problem. "The increasing number of infections has been happening in the past few weeks, and before that we had a time when the number of infections stayed at very low levels," he said.
“I don't see any connection between the increasing number of infections and the lack of fines. The vast majority of people in the Netherlands adhere perfectly to the necessary rules without being obliged to. "
Many Dutch people now want stricter rules. Research last week showed that 66 percent of those polled believed the government should introduce stricter measures, compared with 37 percent in September.
"Mark Rutte doesn't think he should tell us what to do," says economist Mathijs Bouman. "It worked on the first lap and we had a great summer, but the problem is that it is not strong enough on the second wave." People are fed up with being nice. You can only be a good citizen for so long: we need stricter rules. "
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