There is no normal post this week. I only have my traditional festive video for the holiday season to show you. This year’s holiday season is weird, just like this whole year was weird. In the Netherlands we had a final plot twist with our first hard lockdown, which closed everything since yesterday (but for the schools, which will close from today).
Last March it had proved possible to reduce the detected COVID cases in this country with the so-called “intelligent” lockdown. In which shops were only closed voluntarily at first. Now, the closing is mandatory. The restaurants and café’s had already closed in October, but there were still too many fun shoppers and people who did not work from home. Especially to minimise contact between people the whole country came to a standstill now for five weeks. The measures are in effect until (at least) 19 January 2021.
The Prime Minister addressed the nation on Monday via television from his office (full speech in English). His unusual speech was watched by almost 8.4 million people, or almost half of all the Dutch! Unfortunately, the Prime Minister’s office is so close to the public road that a few dozen protestors disrupted the speech by making a lot of noise. This annoyed many people, including (as was clearly visible) the Prime Minister himself. Even though he was only reading a prepared text, he did manage to improvise and add a remark about this clearly audible protest:
“… we are not dealing with a harmless flu, which some – say the protesters out here – still think, but with a virus that can hit anyone hard…”
Fortunately, apart from a very small but vocal minority, most people in the Netherlands do wish to abide to the new rules, no matter what you may think when you look at Twitter and other social media. The streets were notably quieter the first day of the lockdown and that was even before the schools closed.
You would think the pandemic could have had an effect on the Christmas decorations. In the Netherlands it is mostly the shops and restaurants that take care of putting up the decorative lights. Unlike for instance the US where – in the outskirts at least – it is usually residents who decorate their own front yards. You can see how in this short video on Twitter by my friend Brandon Lust on his ride home with the Christmas tree:
— Brandon Lust (@AmericanFietser) December 5, 2020
But despite the fact that many restaurants and bars had closed, these businesses did put up their lights and the city looked as festive as usual. I filmed the video before the shops had closed, so there were still people in the streets. I expect the towns and cities to look a bit different in the final days before Christmas. With everything that is going on in the world, I do wish you all the best for the holidays. Celebrate in a safe way with your loved ones and do enjoy this year’s festive video.
The Netherlands is now closed until 19 January, but not this blog. Next week I will publish the traditional review in which I will look back at 60 posts in 5 minutes. Then there will be no post on 30 December, but I will be back in the new year on 6 January, because – as the Prime Minster also stated in his speech – “cycling … is always possible and recommended”!
Happy Holidays | Fijne Feestdagen!