SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Café, bar and shop owners all over the country say they plan to reopen as normal on Saturday, no matter what the government says about relaxing the coronvirus rules in Friday’s press conference.
The big Dutch papers have all been out and about, gathering reactions. A round-up Laurens Meyer, described by the AD as one of the most influential bar owners in the country, told the paper the Netherlands has become the ‘laughingstock of Europe’ with its lockdown, while the rest of the EU is open for business.
‘The lockdown has had its day all over the place,’ Meyer said. ‘Resistance is growing. People have had enough. More and more mayors are admitting that they won’t enforce the rules if bars open.
If politicians are sensible, they will announce on Friday that bars can open until 5pm. That would take the heat off.’ The Dutch, Mayer said, are flocking to Belgium and Germany to spend their money and ‘that is where our income is going’.
‘We just don’t have any motivation left to remain shut,’ he told the AD.
The NRC headed to border area known as the Achterhoek, where the council has agreed to turn a blind eye to shops reopening, even though the government is set to announce that they can again accept clients by appointment.
Sports shop owner Wouter Mecking points that just 15 minutes away over the border everything is open as normal. ‘That is where people are going out to eat, to Ikea, while here we are going bankrupt,’ he said.
Almost every shop in the village of Ulft will be opening its doors on Saturday as a statement, Sandra Lupoeter of lingerie shop La Familia said. ‘I’m going to cut clients hair again on Saturday,’ said hairdresser Marc Bolder.
‘This is a demonstration. It is time to say “guys, this is no longer a solution”,’ he told the paper.
RTL looked at Zutphen and Valkenburg, where shops and restaurants are also opening in defiance of the rules, and with the local authority’s tacit blessing. ‘We want to show we can do it safely,’ said Remy Koppel, of Café Camelot.
‘We have done everything we can, listened to the rules and danced to the pipes in The Hague. But now we have had enough.’ Valkenburg mayor Daan Prevoo has said he will not take action against the retailers who do open.
‘Everyone has the right to demonstrate, and this is what I consider the shopkeepers’ action to be,’ he told RTL Nieuws. The Valkenburg protest is taking place on Friday from 10am to 4pm, ahead of the press conference.
The Volkskrant focuses on Gouda, where the council has written to prime minister Mark Rutte warning him that ‘we cannot sell [this strategy] any longer’.
Mayor Pieter Verhoeve, the city’s aldermen, councillors and local business associations have all called on the government to relax the rules considerably.
‘A lockdown is a last resort, but we should not be getting used to emergency legislation,’ Verhoeve told the VK.
‘This lockdown is out of all proportion. We can no longer sell the fact that the Netherlands is the only country in Europe which is shut. Social unrest is reaching a peak.’
The Telegraaf spoke to psychologists in an effort to find out why the Dutch are so stubborn about not sticking to the coronavirus rules. Evolutionary psychologist Mark van Vugt told the Telegraaf that people who have been vaccinated and had a booster want something in return for doing their bit for society.
‘We are of course known for our consensus culture, where everyone has a say,’ psychologist Jeffrey Wijnberg pointed out. ‘It does not help that support for the measures is crumbling and people are far less understanding,’ said VU University professor Paul van Lange.
‘And that is all to do with people thinking that hospital numbers are okay and that the Netherlands is following much tougher policy than our surrounding countries.’ ‘The Netherlands has a relaxed culture, where we don’t tell each other off,’ he said.
‘We are more tolerate of behaviour that deviates from the norm.’