FRIDAY 3 APRIL: REGIONAL NEWS UPDATES relating to the coronavirus in The Hague and surroundings (source: regional broadcaster Omroep West)
Parking lots near beaches and public parks will be closed this weekend, to stop potential hordes of people who might be planning to use these facilities, in view of the warm weather. If, in spite of these measures, the beaches become too crowded, they will be closed too, announced the interim mayor, Johan Remkes.
Here is a summary of the local news headlines for Friday 3 April:
- Parking lots near beaches and public parks will be closed this weekend, to stop potential hordes of people who might be planning to use these facilities, in view of the warm weather. If, in spite of these measures, the beaches become too crowded, they will be closed too, announced the interim mayor, Johan Remkes.
- The Hague public transport company, HTM, is asking people not to take the tram to the beach or the parks this weekend. The number of passengers allowed on trams and busses has been sharply cut in order to meet safety rules.
- Holiday bungalow parks, campsites and B&B’s will be closed until 10 May in the Hague and surrounding area (Haaglanden). This follows a prohibition on spending nights away from home for recreational reasons. “This is a disaster”, admit owners of these facilities, who are showing understanding for the measure in spite of their despair.
- KLM is sending six flights to Australia to bring back stranded Dutch nationals. This operation is being carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The first flight of Dutch passengers from Australia is expected to arrive at Schiphol airport on Monday.
- The Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) has launched an app, COVID-Radar, to gather data on the spread of the coronavirus. Users can enter their symptoms into the app which will then predict who has the highest risk of infection and the expected demands on the healthcare system. They hope that as many Dutch residents as possible will use the app, so they can gain insight into the number and location of infected people.
- The Dutch Association of Criminal Lawyers (NVSA) has called for the reopening of courts to counter the growing backlog of cases and delays in the justice system. They argue that it is possible to keep safety distances in courtrooms, which are usually very large. The courts have been closed since mid-March.
- The Leiden Marathon is cancelled due to the coronavirus, but organisers are hoping to hold an “online marathon” instead, whereby participants run 10 km in their own neighbourhood and their achievement is tracked by an app. The municipality of Leiden has not yet approved this alternative, fearing that thousands of runners on the streets on the same day and time will not be able to maintain safety distances. The municipality will make a decision on Monday.
- The recently closed wards of the Bronovo hospital will not be re-opened, despite calls to do so. It is much more efficient to concentrate the available staff and equipment in a few places, according to Interim mayor, Johan Remkes, and reopening the Bronovo location would weaken the Intensive Care units that are currently in operation.
- Food banks in the Hague and surroundings will reopen, thanks to logistical help from the Ministry of Defence at the distribution centre. Food banks in Leiden, Alphen aan den Rijn, Delft, Katwijk and Noordwijk will receive large shipments of food. However, food bank users in Zoetermeer, Den Haag and Rijswijk will continue to be given vouchers to spend in the supermarket instead of the food packages they normally receive from the food bank.
- A large group of Delft students delivered a total of 750 tulips to elderly residents of the city. With the flowers was a note with the student’s phone number for the elderly to call for a friendly chat if they wished. This was initiated by volunteer organisation Gewoon Mensen.
- Prime Minister Mark Rutte has asked people living in neighbouring countries not to travel to The Netherlands for the Easter weekend. Dutch holiday parks are usually popular with tourists on long weekends, but this year cross-border tourism is strongly discouraged in order to better contain the virus.
In cooperation with the regional broadcaster, Omroep West, www.Dutchbuzz.nl will provide a daily summary of the day’s most important news by 13.00 each day.